DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
11 September 2002
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
This morning the Secretary-General, accompanied by his wife Nane, attended the annual interfaith service of commitment to the work of the United Nations at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan.
In his remarks the Secretary-General said the events of last September had put all of our faiths to the test.
As a result of the attacks, he said, “we needed to reaffirm our respect for each other and for each other’s beliefs”.
After the Church service, he and Nane Annan joined the several hundred United Nations staffers who gathered on the North Lawn for the UN’s own commemoration of the September 11th attacks.
In introducing the Secretary-General, Gillian Sorensen, Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations said, we are here “as a UN family because there is strength in numbers, we come in the hope that our presence here and our work with the UN will defeat the forces of hate and violence”.
Speaking to the crowd, which also included many permanent representatives, the Secretary-General said that the grief felt on that day a year ago was not only out of solidarity with the United States but also out of a shared loss since citizens of more than 90 countries were killed on that day.
“Today”, he said, “we come together as a world community because we were attacked as a world community.”
The Secretary-General also took this opportunity to remind the staff and
New York that the United Nations is not an isolated enclave separate from the city. “We at the United Nations are, in the deepest sense of the word", he said, "a part of this community. We are neighbours to all New Yorkers, both as individuals and as an institution.”
Six staff members -- Joanna Depue, Leo Powell, Gihan Aboulezz, Karen Sholto, Amir Dossal and Margo Kemp -– delivered reflections on the day’s meaning.
Also speaking at the ceremony were the President of the General Assembly, Jan Kavan, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, John Negroponte, and Rosemary Waters, the President of the Staff Union.
In a short while, at 12:45, the Secretary-General will attend the Security Council’s high-level meeting on acts of international terrorism.
The meeting will be chaired by President Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria, which holds the presidency of the Council for September. Statements are expected by the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, as well as by the Secretary-General.
The Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement at that meeting.
Lastly, this evening, the Secretary-General and his wife will join Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many foreign dignitaries at a ceremony at Ground Zero organized by the City of New York.
As events to mark the September 11 attacks are held around the world, many UN peacekeeping missions also organized their own commemorative ceremonies.
In Kinshasa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amos Namanga Ngongi, and Deputy Special Representative Lena Sundh, attended a memorial service at the Cathédrale du Centenaire, which was also attended by government officials and representatives of UN agencies and the diplomatic corps.
In Kosovo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Michael Steiner, spoke to mark the anniversary in an address with Kosovo’s President, Ibrahim Rugova. Steiner will also speak at a US-sponsored ceremony in Pristina this evening, and we expect to have embargoed copies of that speech later today.
And, finally, in Kabul, UN Spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva read out at a government-sponsored ceremony the Secretary-General’s message marking today, and he added that Afghanistan was one of the countries most directly affected by the events that took place a year ago. He said, “May this remembrance here and others, which are happening around the world today, be the inspiration for the people of Afghanistan and the international community to recommit themselves to the task, though long and difficult, of bringing about the political and physical reconstruction of Afghanistan and the well-being of the Afghan people.”
**Secretary-General's Annual Report
In his annual report on the work of the United Nations, the Secretary-General says that the past year has witnessed extraordinary challenges to security and stability, with the terrorist attacks of last September 11 dramatizing the global threat of terrorism. He said, “I firmly believe that the terrorist menace must be suppressed, but States must ensure that counter-terrorist measures do not violate human rights.”
In the wake of last year’s attacks, nations have focused on the challenge of reconstructing weak or collapsed States, like Afghanistan, that can provide fertile breeding grounds for terrorism. At the same time, there has been a sharp escalation of violence and tension in the Middle East, in South Asia and in Central Africa.
At the same time, the past year saw signs of progress, as East Timor gained its independence and Sierra Leone held peaceful elections. The entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, he adds, was “an unprecedented step forward for world order and justice”.
The report notes that over the past year, three conferences -– held respectively in Doha, Qatar; Monterrey, Mexico; and Johannesburg, South Africa -– addressed trade, financing for development and sustainable development and outlined steps to help meet the Millennium Development Goals.
The report underscores that no single country has the capacity to cope with the challenges of an interconnected world, from terrorism to refugee movements, and from AIDS to environmental problems. All nations, the Secretary-General says, stand to benefit from the constructive change that multilateralism makes possible.
That report should be out on the racks.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported yesterday that, after the sharp decline in passenger traffic on airlines following last year’s September 11 attacks, commercial air traffic has stabilized this year, and traffic should rebound in 2003, mainly because of an overall strengthening of the world economy.
The ICAO adds that the drop in demand for air travel last year caused airline companies to suffer a total net loss of some $12 billion in 2001, with related sectors, including trade and tourism, also hurt by the decline. But by 2004, ICAO’s forecasts show a robust growth in the number of people flying on the world’s airlines. We have a press release with more details upstairs.
**World Food Programme-Sri Lanka
The United Nations World Food Programme has launched a series of urgently needed projects in Sri Lanka. This is in response to the mass return of internally displaced persons to former conflict areas.
A total of 90 projects are planned to start this year to help to restore basic social infrastructure such as roads, irrigation works, schools and health clinics.
The WFP says that among 217,000 people affected by the war, so far more than 100,000 have returned to their homes.
**Child Soldiers in Sri Lanka
The United Nations Children's Fund today said it was encouraged by the release, over the past few weeks, of 85 child recruits by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelem.
A list of the children was given to the UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka by the head of the Tiger’s political wing on 6 September and UNICEF staff has interviewed more than 20 children who had been returned to their families. UNICEF is developing an action plan for the social reintegration of the child, which will include assistance in returning to school and vocational training.
We have a press release with more information.
We have a couple of press releases from the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO). The first is on proposals for dealing with narrowing the digital divide, which is the growing inequality between rich and poor nations in access to new information technologies. The proposals will be presented by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, to member States today in Paris.
The second is on the 2002 literacy prizes, which were awarded yesterday in Paris. This year’s winners came from Eritrea, Uganda, Pakistan, Egypt and Mexico.
This afternoon, Belgium will sign the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court that was opened for signature yesterday.
Today at 12:45 on the occasion of the Fifty-fifth Annual DPI/NGO Conference, speakers will address the problems of assisting societies emerging from conflict.
The press conference with the Foreign Minister of China that was previously announced for 5:00 this afternoon has been cancelled.
Tomorrow, in room 226: at 1 p.m., Dominique De Villepin, the Foreign Minister of France; at 4 p.m., Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Prime Minister of Denmark. Denmark currently holds the Presidency of the European Union; and for the late night folks, at 7:15 p.m., Hatsuhisa Takashima, the Spokesman of the Foreign Minister of Japan will brief you.
**Al Qaeda List
We have a late-breaking development here…
One entity and one individual will be added to the UN list of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and other individuals, groups and entities associated with them.
The list is being compiled by the Security Council Committee on Sanctions against Al Qaeda, Taliban and associates.
A press release is expected to be released this afternoon.
I think I can give you the names now. This was under the "no objection" procedure.
The entity being added is the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a name submitted by China.
The individual is Wa'el Hamza Julaideu. That name was submitted by Saudi Arabia.
That's all I have for you.
Now Richard Sydenham, the new Spokesman for the new President of the General Assembly. Today is his first official briefing. Welcome, Richard.
**Briefing by Spokesman for GA President
At 8.15 this morning, General Assembly President Jan Kavan attended the Annual Interfaith Service to the Commitment to the Work of the United Nations at St. Bartholomew’s Church. In his statement, the President said
“A multireligious gathering such as this embodies the ideals of understanding, interrelationship, mutual tolerance and acceptance.” He went on to say that “The United Nations similarly is a forum that unites peoples of a multitude of faiths and backgrounds…. It is a place which offers room for finding common language and common solutions through dialogue and cooperation. It is only in this spirit that the Organization can fulfil its mission of bringing peace, advancement and dignity into the life of every human being.”
The President also spoke this morning at the Ceremony of Remembrance held on the North Lawn to commemorate the terrorist attacks a year ago today. He said, “the invincible spirit and extraordinary heroism of the people of New York have been an inspiration to all of us.” He noted “the courage and selflessness with which the American people responded to this unspeakable tragedy” and he went on to “appeal to all Member States to uphold and reinforce the coalition carrying out our common responsibility to fight international terrorism”.
Following the Ceremony of Remembrance, President Kavan opened the first meeting of the General Committee. On the agenda is the organization of work of the fifty-seventh session, adoption of the agenda and allocation of items: memorandum by the Secretary-General. For your reference this is available in document A/BUR/57/1.
President Kavan will attend the Eternal Flame Ceremony at Battery Park this evening.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Is the high-level meeting of the Security Council going to be covered on UNTV?
Secretary-General Spokesman: It's an open meeting.
Question: Do you have a total number for the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the list?
Secretary-General Spokesman: Check with my Office and we'll see if there is anything in print for you. [He later said it was available on the Web.]
Thank you very much.
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