DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
30 September 2002
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, and Richard Sydenham, Spokesman for the General Assembly President.
Briefing by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General
The guest at our briefing today will be Toshiyuki Niwa, who is the Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Management, and he will be here to talk to you about the Capital Master Plan. [Mr. Niwa’s briefing is being issued separately.]
This morning in Vienna, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and Mohammed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with an Iraqi delegation, headed by Dr. Amir Al-Sadi, to discuss practical arrangements for the return of the UN weapons inspectors.
Today’s talks were a first reading of all the issues on the agenda, and they will continue tomorrow, and are expected to conclude in the afternoon.
Blix spoke to reporters on his way into the talks this morning, and said they were designed to deal with issues like access to sites, entry into Iraq, the inspectors’ headquarters facility in Baghdad and the movement of inspectors.
He said he would report to the Security Council this Thursday about the talks, adding, “Of course, you realize that it is the Security Council that wants to have the first news, and therefore I am a little restrained in what I say here”.
The Secretary-General this morning spoke briefly to reporters, who asked him about his views concerning possible Security Council action on Iraq. He noted that the Council has not yet had the chance to see a US proposal concerning a resolution, and said he was waiting to see what would eventually emerge from the Council. He said of the Council, “I expect them to work this out and come up with an acceptable resolution.”
Yesterday afternoon, this office put out a statement which said that the Secretary-General welcomed the decision of the Government of Israel to lift the siege of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound.
The Secretary-General strongly believes that both sides should fully implement Security Council resolution 1435 immediately and return to the negotiating table. The best path away from violence and stalemate is through the
road map set out by the Quartet in its 17 September communiqué, which aims for a complete end of violence, the early establishment of a Palestinian State with provisional borders and a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Terje Roed Larsen was with President Arafat yesterday as Israel lifted the siege. Larsen emphasized to reporters that we must now use the lifting of the siege as a springboard to fulfilling the rest of resolution 1435, including the cessation of all violence and Israel's withdrawal to pre-September 2000 lines.
**Statement Attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General - issued Saturday.
On Saturday we issued a statement concerning the boat tragedy off the coast of West Africa. The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the news that hundreds of people are feared drowned after a Senegalese passenger ferry capsized off the coast of Gambia in a violent storm.
He expresses his heartfelt condolences to the Government, families and friends of the victims.
The Security Council is holding consultations on the work of its 1267 Sanctions Committee, which deals with the sanctions on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their associates. Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia briefed on the work of that committee, which he chairs.
Out as a document on the racks today is the final report of the group monitoring those sanctions, chaired by Michael Chandler, who has already briefed you on that document.
And to recap, the Council took up the Democratic Republic of the Congo in consultations Friday afternoon. A draft resolution was introduced.
Following the late afternoon session, Council President Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria read two press statements -- one on the DRC welcoming the measures announced by Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe and Rwanda for the full withdrawal of their troops, and another on the Middle East in which Council members called for the full implementation of the latest resolution.
Finally, today is the last day of the Bulgarian presidency of the Security Council, and Cameroon takes over that function tomorrow.
**Sudan -- Oshima
Kenzo Oshima, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, is beginning today a 12-day mission to Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
On the first leg of his mission, to Sudan and Kenya, Mr. Oshima will be meeting with senior officials from the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement. He will also meet with the UN country team, and representatives from the donor and non-governmental organization communities.
He will be accompanied by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for Sudan, Ambassador Tom Eric Vraalsen.
Issues to be discussed include humanitarian access to people in need, the safety of civilians and aid workers, and ways to assure the smooth functioning of one of the world’s largest humanitarian operations.
There is a press advisory on the mission available in the Spokesman’s Office.
And on return, Mr. Oshima is scheduled to brief you here on 14 October.
Tomorrow morning, at 10:30, the Secretary-General will brief you in this room, to outline the steps being taken by the United Nations and its partners to help accelerate the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, agreed to by world leaders two years ago at the special Millennium Summit of the General Assembly. He will be joined by UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown.
In his recent report to the General Assembly about the international community’s implementation of the Millennium Declaration during the past two years, the Secretary-General said the record was “at best, mixed”, and said that progress must be made on a much broader front over the next 13 years. “Otherwise”, he wrote, “the ringing words of the Declaration will serve only as grim reminders of human needs neglected and promises unmet”.
The Secretary-General will brief the Assembly on that report this Friday, and, at tomorrow’s press conference, he will tell you about the record so far and ways that the United Nations is trying to ensure that more progress is made on the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
We have a press kit upstairs, the press release is embargoed until 10:30 tomorrow morning, and it contains more information about the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.
Because of the Secretary-General’s press conference, we will not have a noon briefing tomorrow, but the Highlights will be posted, and hand-outs will be available in my office, as well.
**ICT Task Force
The Secretary-General this morning opened the third meeting of the UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, saying he was pleased that the Task Force would use this meeting to place a particular focus on the need to use such technologies to further development in Africa.
He said that information and communications technology is not “a magic formula that is going to solve all the problems”, but he stressed that it can be a powerful tool for economic growth and poverty eradication. What is needed, he said, is to use low-cost technologies to provide cheap, fast, and eventually free access to the Internet.
He said, “Now is the time to think of partnerships and initiatives that will make a difference on the ground”. We have copies of his statement upstairs.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has unsealed its indictment against Ljubomir Borovcanin, a former Bosnian Serb Army official, who is accused of complicity to commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, particularly for his alleged involvement in the killings of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. The Tribunal today issued a press release with more details.
Also from Bosnia, the UN Mission in that country and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) investigated allegations of human rights violations in the prison at Zenica, and have issued a release saying that their investigation does not support allegations that any Croat prisoners detained there had been forced to convert to Islam. (One inmate who was interviewed said he had converted to Islam freely, without any pressure.)
The former prefect of Kigali-Ville, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, was arrested yesterday in Kinshasa, becoming the first genocide suspect indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to be arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has been transferred to the Tribunal’s detention facility in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.
Tribunal Registrar Adama Dieng, who was in Kinshasa, praised DRC President Joseph Kabila’s commitment to help the Tribunal identify and arrest other suspects who are still at large.
We have a press release on that.
**Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will have to halt cereal distributions in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea because of a slump in donations. WFP said that 3 million hungry women, children and elderly people would be affected, with an additional 1.5 million people to run out of rations from the beginning of next year unless substantial fresh pledges are made soon.
In October, WFP will be forced to stop cereal distributions to nearly half a million kindergarten children and a quarter of a million pregnant and nursing women, who presently receive 350 and 650 grams a day respectively. In November, nearly a million nursery children will no longer be given their 160-grams a day entitlement.
WFP said that it urgently needed more than 100,000 tonnes of cereals to cover its requirements for the remainder of the year and through January of next year. It urges donors to do their utmost to limit the damage.
Finally, two press releases to mentions: The Human Rights Committee last week considered a number of cases brought before it by individuals claiming breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In one of these cases, Wackenheim v. France, the complainant, a dwarf employed in discotheques in France, claimed that he was unable to continue his employment as the object of “dwarf tossing” because the practice had been banned by the French courts. The Committee upheld the ban imposed by France, saying that it was
satisfied that the ban on dwarf tossing was not abusive but “necessary in order to protect public order…including considerations of human dignity which are compatible with the aims of the Covenant”. We have more in a press release.
A second press release is from the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent that is meeting this week in Bonn. The meeting will decide whether to add the insecticide monocrotophos to the list of pesticides and industrial chemicals subject to procedures under the Convention. These insecticides, which are used in many developing countries, particularly in Asia, are highly toxic to humans, birds and animals and safer alternatives exist for all combinations of pests and crops now targeted. We have a joint press release from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with more information.
Mr. Niwa, do you want to come up here and join me? Any questions before we go to Richard?
**Briefing by the Spokesman for the General Assembly President
Thank you. Good afternoon.
This morning the First Committee began a general debate on all disarmament and related international security agenda items at which Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, made a statement. The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) began a general debate on all decolonization items and the Second Committee began its general debate with a statement by Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. Also the Third Committee began consideration of items on “Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice” and “International Drug Control”.
As you know, the Capital Master Plan has been issued today in document A/57/285. We look forward to Mr. Niwa’s briefing on that.
A round table on the theme Disarmament in Conflict Prevention will take place tomorrow at 1:15 in Conference Room 4. The panel will include representatives from the Missions of Mexico and Sierra Leone. Also from the Bonn International Centre for Conversion and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research among others. That’s in Conference Room 4 tomorrow on Disarmament in Conflict Prevention.
The General Assembly will meet in plenary session next on Thursday on the appointment of a member of the Joint Inspection Unit and election of 18 members of the Economic and Social Council. And next Friday, 4 October, the General Assembly will hold a joint debate on the follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit and the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization.
Spokesman for the Secretary-General:
Any questions for Richard? If not, it’s a pleasure now to go to Toshiyuki Niwa, the Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Management, who wants to talk to you about the latest version of the Capital Master Plan.
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