UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!



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

25 July 2002

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

Good afternoon.

**Sierra Leone Special Court

The Secretary-General and the Government of Sierra Leone, in implementation of the relevant provisions of the Agreement on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, signed in Freetown, Sierra Leone on 16 January, have today announced the appointments of eight judges who will serve on the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court which has its seat in Freetown. The appointments are as follows:

For the Trial Chamber, Pierre Boutet of Canada, Benjamin Mutanga Itoe of Cameroon, (appointed by the Secretary-General) and Bankole Thompson of Sierra Leone (appointed by the Government of Sierra Leone.)

For the Appeals Chamber, Emmanuel O. Ayoola of Nigeria, Alhaji Hassan B. Jallow of the Gambia and Renate Winter of Austria (those are appointed by the Secretary-General); and Gelaga King of Sierra Leone and Geoffrey Robertson of the United Kingdom (appointed by the Government of Sierra Leone).

In addition, the Secretary-General and the Government have agreed that should the Special Court decide to avail itself of the provisions of the Agreement relating to alternate judges, the following two alternate judges should be appointed: Isaac Aboagye of Ghana and Elizabeth Muyovwe of Zambia.

The Registrar and the Prosecutor who have been appointed earlier are expected to assume their functions in Freetown in the second half of July.

We have thumbnail Bio notes on each of these judges available in my office.

**Security Council

The Security Council today is holding an open debate on women, peace and security. As you'll recall, the Security Council discussed this issue for the first time in October 2000 and adopted resolution 1325 aimed at strengthening women’s protection in armed conflict and to support the role of women in peacekeeping and peace-building.

There are 29 speakers on the list for today’s debate, among them Angela King, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and the Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Noeleen Heyzer. We have their remarks upstairs.

Angela King briefed the Council on a study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and the role of women in peace-building. She said the study, carried out over 18 months, provided the first systemic overview of gender-related activities carried out by the UN family in the field of peace and security.

She listed eight recommendations to move women off the sidelines and into everyday peace and humanitarian activities of the United Nations. But King said that challenges include the lack of political will to recognize women as equal partners. She notes the work that has gone into developing gender-sensitive guidelines, but expresses disappointment on how little monitoring and self-evaluation are carried out to follow up.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno mentioned examples of concrete progress in implementing resolution 1325 within specific peacekeeping operations, notably in East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He said that in East Timor, women represented 27 per cent of the total number of candidates returned to the Constituent Assembly -– the highest ever under a UN-sponsored election.

Today’s Council debate began less than 12 hours after the open debate on the Middle East ended last night following statements by 37 speakers.


In Israel today, the International Task Force on Palestinian Reform met with senior Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as well as representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the Israeli Coordinator for the Territories.

The Task Force is comprised of members of the Quartet -– you know that’s the UN, the US, the EU and Russia -- as well as Norway, Japan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The Foreign Minister told the Task Force that Israel was about to release 10 per cent of the $650 million it is holding of Value Added Tax collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli officials said that security remained their overriding concern, but they expressed their willingness to work with the Task Force to facilitate its work.

The Task Force is working on creating the conditions for reform within the Palestinian Authority. This includes working closely with Palestinian officials on specific areas such as law, elections and finance.

During the meeting, members of the Task Force sought to engage the Israelis on ways to allow movement for Palestinian Ministers and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as representatives of international organizations.


The Special Trafficking Programme of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina is examining, along with Bosnian police, an incident that took place in Kiseljak on Monday night in which six women were kidnapped by a group of about 15 armed men.

Last night, the Special Trafficking Programme accompanied Bosnian police as they raided a nightclub in Busovaca, where five of the kidnapped women -– who came from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine –- were found and brought to a safe house. The freed women reported that they had been raped, beaten and tortured by their kidnappers.

They were brought to a hospital, where they received medical attention. However, the UN Mission, in a press statement that we have available upstairs, said the women were treated at the hospital without dignity and respect, which it said was “absolutely unacceptable”.

The UN Mission will continue to work with local police to investigate this matter.

**ICTY -– Milosevic

Today in The Hague, Judge Richard May of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), read out some of the results of an independent report, which had been requested by the Tribunal, that had examined the health of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic following concerns about his recent illnesses.

That report, Judge May said, concluded that Milosevic is at severe risk from cardio-vascular problems, and recommended that he reduce his workload and possibly undertake further cardio-vascular treatment. The Tribunal judges recommended further treatment for the former President, and have requested a report from a cardiologist before they consider further steps to ease any stress on Milosevic’s health.

Former President Milosevic, you’ll recall, has been representing himself at his current trial under way in The Hague. His last appearance before the Tribunal takes a four-week summer recess will take place tomorrow, after which his next court date is scheduled for 26 August.


Yesterday afternoon, the Economic and Social Council recommended for adoption by the General Assembly a draft optional protocol to the Convention against Torture, which is to establish a system of regular visits by independent bodies to centres where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other such punishment.

The draft text of the optional protocol was adopted by a vote of 35 in favour to eight against, with 10 abstentions.

That vote was taken after the Economic and Social Council defeated an amendment, proposed by the United States, that would have recommended that the General Assembly convene an open-ended working group during its next session to continue consideration of the draft protocol, given concerns expressed about the current text.

That proposed amendment was defeated by a vote of 15 in favour to 29 against, with eight abstentions.

In its consideration of human rights issues yesterday afternoon, ECOSOC also voted 46 in favour to one against, with one abstention, to adopt a resolution demanding that Israel comply fully with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We have a press release on the racks with more details.

**Oshima in Korea

Kenzo Oshima, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, leaves tomorrow on a two-week mission to East Asia. He goes first to China where he will meet with government and United Nations officials.

On Tuesday he will go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a four-day visit, which will take him to Pyongyang and Kangwon Province on the east coast.

Oshima will wrap up his mission with a two-day stay in the Republic of Korea followed by two days in Japan. He returns to New York on 11 August.


The briefing notes from the UN mission in Kabul include an update on the visit to Afghanistan by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, and a UNICEF update on a three-day regional polio eradication campaign ending today.

UNICEF reports that more than 6,500 vaccinators have been mobilized to reach some 1.2 million children under the age of five in 66 districts of southern, south-eastern and eastern regions of Afghanistan.

So far in 2002, over 10 million children in Afghanistan have been successfully immunized against polio.

**Human Rights

High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson welcomed the indication by the Iranian Government that it is willing to extend an open invitation to special rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights, and said that visits by the Commission’s special rapporteurs and working groups to Iran could be effective in improving the promotion of human rights.

We have more details in a press release upstairs.


The UN Population Fund has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the European Union of an additional 32 million Euros –- which is about $32 million -- for projects in developing countries. The money will fund a three-and-a-half-year health initiative for 22 African, Caribbean and Pacific nations. The Fund’s Executive Director, Thoraya Obaid, said, “The resources will allow us to help women in these countries plan their families, have safe pregnancies and deliveries, and protect themselves against HIV infection.”

The additional resources were negotiated over the last year and come at a time when the Fund is seeking to help fill the gap left by the withdrawal of funds by the United States.

We have a press release with more details.


The Secretary-General, in a report out on the racks today on the follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing, which took place in Madrid in April, says that that meeting “served as a truly global forum on ageing”, with 159 countries participating. The Plan of Action adopted in Madrid, he says, forms the basis for action to face the remarkable demographic transition that is currently under way.

Now, the report says, the Commission for Social Development should begin discussion on how to integrate the dimensions of population ageing in its work, while the Chief Executives Board of the UN system should include implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing into its work.

**Press Releases

A press release today from the United Nations Children's Fund announces the appointment of West African singing star Angelique Kidjo as a Special Representative. Ms. Kidjo is committed to children’s issues, in particular education, which she sees as crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Executive Director Carol Bellamy said her focus on education would go a long way in helping to get children in school and to keep them there. We have a press release on that.

That’s all I have for you. Thank you very much.

* *** *

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list