DAILY BRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
1 October 2002
Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General:
Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General appeared before you to discuss his first annual report on how nations have followed up the Millennium Declaration, which will be discussed in the General Assembly this Friday.
In a nutshell, he said, the report “says the world is falling short. If we carry on the way we are, the pledges are not going to be fulfilled”.
The Secretary-General said that all States have pledged to achieve parity between boys and girls in primary and secondary schools by 2005, little more than two years from now, a goal, he said, which is unlikely to be met. He added, “Without greater success in placing more girls in school, I fear it will prove even more difficult to reach the other goals”.
He said the United Nations has started a Millennium Campaign, to make sure that the Millennium Development Goals are better known throughout the world, and that something is actually done to make those goals a reality.
He also named Eveline Herfkens, formerly the Minister for Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, as an adviser to assist in promoting the Millennium Development Goals. Ms. Herfkens and UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown then spoke at length about the need to push ahead with the Development Goals.
**Iraq: UN Weapons Inspectors Continue Vienna Talks
The Government of Iraq and officials of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)began a second day of talks in Vienna, and we have been informed by our Vienna office that the discussions concluded just recently.
Going into the talks this afternoon, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix said that the Monday talks had been “a very full day of discussions”, systematically going through the practical arrangements for weapons inspectors. The inspectors, he said, were seeking “immediate, unconditional, unrestricted access”.
He said he would brief the Security Council on Thursday about the talks.
Mr. Blix is expected to brief the press in Vienna in a few minutes, but that press briefing had not yet begun as I came down to talk to you. We will put out a transcript of that press briefing as soon as it is completed and we are trying to pipe it live through the MX system. And when that happens, and
the press briefing starts in Vienna, this briefing will cut out because we have only one MX line so we will stop broadcasting this briefing on the MX system once Hans Blix starts talking in Vienna.
We issued a statement attributable to the Spokesman last night concerning the Côte d’Ivoire situation and I’ll now read it into the record:
“The Secretary-General continues to follow with deep concern the developments in Côte d’Ivoire. He welcomes the results of the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit which took place in Accra, Ghana, on 29 September. He supports the Summit's call for the insurgents to cease hostilities and for all parties to work towards a negotiated settlement to avert further violence whose humanitarian consequences could be disastrous for Côte d'Ivoire and the entire subregion.
“The Secretary-General calls on the international community to support the ECOWAS peace initiative and contribute to the creation of a conducive environment for a peaceful outcome of the crisis. He affirms the readiness of the United Nations to support the ongoing subregional efforts to resolve the crisis.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that it is desperately looking for new sites to house refugees who continue to arrive at the agency’s offices in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, after having been burned out of their homes.
About 50 refugees continue arriving each day at UNHCR's office in the city. Some spend the night outside the office gates, leaving themselves exposed to potential trouble after curfew.
UNHCR is now caring for more than 600 refugees in three sites in the Abidjan area. The refugees are reported to be restless, frustrated and scared. There are many families with six or seven children, often including babies. There are about 100 Sierra Leonean refugees among those who have lost their homes.
The United Nations estimates that more than 6,000 people have now lost their homes and are displaced in Abidjan alone.
**Oshima in Sudan
In Khartoum today, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for the Sudan, Tom Eric Vraalsen, met with senior government officials.
At a press encounter after those meetings, Mr. Oshima said he had reiterated the messages the Secretary-General had sent to the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) that parties to the conflict should make every effort to end the fighting, return to the negotiating table and move towards a peaceful solution to the conflict for the sake of the people of Sudan.
Mr. Oshima said he would deliver those same messages to SPLM officials when he meets with them later this week.
In his meetings today, Mr. Oshima said he also raised issues of concern to United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners, including the recent flight bans over the Equatoria provinces in southern Sudan. He said he had received assurances that the Government of Sudan would look into these problems with a view to resolving them urgently.
In accordance with the principle of alphabetical rotation, Cameroon has succeeded Bulgaria as the President of the Security Council for the month of October.
There are no scheduled meetings or consultations of the whole of the Council today.
The first scheduled consultations as of now are for tomorrow, when Council members will meet to discuss the programme of work for the month.
Following those consultations at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, Council President, Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou, Permanent Representative of Cameroon, will speak to you here in room 226.
At 4:00 p.m. today, there is a meeting scheduled of the Security Council committee established by resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism. That committee is chaired by Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom.
**Bosnia and Herzegovina
The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina this week will confer accreditation to two law enforcement agencies that it has deemed meet the basic standards for democratic police institutions.
Tomorrow, Jacques Klein, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be present at the accreditation ceremony for the Republika Srpska’s Ministry of the Interior, and on Thursday, he will attend one for the Ministry of the Interior for Canton 1, in the Bosnian Federation.
Other law enforcement agencies will be accredited in the coming weeks. We have further details in a press release from Sarajevo.
Figures released by the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) in their weekly update show that Iraqi oil exports dropped from the previous week’s high of 1.9 million barrels per day to just over 1.1 million barrels per day. With a total weekly volume of 7.9 million barrels, the exports netted an estimated $210 million in revenue at current prices and rate of exchange.
An overview of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1409 (2002) based on the Goods Review List (GRL) indicates that over 66 per cent of the newly processed contracts for humanitarian supplies and equipment were found not to contain any GRL items and therefore approved by the Office of the Iraq Programme. However, a large number of contracts also required additional information from suppliers for final assessment by UNMOVIC and the IAEA and are therefore pending.
The full text of the OIP weekly update is available upstairs.
UNHCR has an update on the outflow of refugees from Burundi.
It says that nearly 900 Burundian refugees have fled to Tanzania since last Friday in a rapidly growing outflow. More refugees are said to be on the way. The recent arrivals bring to more than 3,000 the total number of Burundian refugees who have fled to Tanzania during September alone –- a nearly tenfold increase from August when only 350 new Burundian refugees were registered in Tanzania. This year's total so far now stands at 5,200.
**Law of the Sea Tribunal
In Hamburg, Germany, today, Judge Dolliver Nelson of Grenada was elected as President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, from 2002 through 2005. Over the past three years, he has been the Tribunal’s Vice-President.
He replaced the outgoing President, Judge Chandrasekhara Rao.
We have a press release with Judge Nelson’s biographical information.
**International Day of Older Persons
Today is the International Day of Older Persons and in his message the Secretary-General calls for the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action adopted at the Second World Assembly on ageing earlier this year. He says the Plan provides a broad spectrum of social, political and economic recommendations for improving the situation of older people. “Each of us has a part to play in that effort”, he says, “let us resolve to work together to craft a new era for ageing in the 21st century”.
**Secretary-General Goes to Yale
The Secretary-General will travel to Yale University tomorrow afternoon. He will deliver a lecture at 4:30 on globalization at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. He will talk about the need for broadened and more inclusive globalization so everybody can benefit from it. At the end of the lecture, he will take a few questions.
He will also meet with the President of Yale University, Richard Charles Levin, and the Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Ernesto Zedillo. He will attend a reception at the Center before returning to New York in the evening.
The Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, will open a panel discussion today on "Disarmament in Conflict Prevention".
The panel discussion will be held from 12:30 to 2:45, in Conference Room 4. It is open to all United Nations staff, delegates and journalists. This will be the first of a series of seminars on a particular subject on disarmament organized by the Department for Disarmament Affairs.
There will be five panellists, each of whom will speak on specific aspects of the broad theme. Following the presentations by the panellists, the floor will be opened for questions and answers.
**Launch of TV Campaign
The United Nations and Discovery Channel today announced the launch of a special television campaign throughout Latin America, Spain and Portugal to increase awareness about important global issues with the help of five international celebrities -– all United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors.
Beginning 7 October, public announcements will educate millions of Discovery Channel viewers in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Spain and Portugal about HIV/AIDS, biodiversity, girls’ education, women’s health and immunization.
The Goodwill Ambassadors include Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Roger Moore, Peter Ustinov and Catarina Furtado
For further information, contact Carmel Mulvany at (212) 963-2300; e-mail, Mulvany@UN.org or Dawn Blalock (212) 963-8333; e-mail, email@example.com.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that Timor-Leste has become the Organization’s 192nd member. Health Minister Rui Maria de Araujo said the health priorities will include improving health and saving the lives of mothers and children in a country where infant mortality is estimated at 70-95 deaths per 1,000 live births. We have a press release with more details.
In another press release, WHO has issued clarification on erroneous news reports stating that WHO has conducted a study predicting the extinction of the naturally blonde hair gene by 2202. WHO has never issued a report nor conducted research on the subject.
Today, Guyana became the 104th Member State to pay its 2002 regular budget contribution in full with a payment of more than $11,000. We are far behind last year’s total on this day of 122 fully paid up Member States.
That’s all I have for you.
**Questions and Answers:
Is there anything about Cyprus? What time are the meetings on Thursday and Friday?
As of yesterday there still had not been any specific plan. The Secretary-General wanted to discuss that with Alvaro de Soto. I’ll have to check for you. I’ve had, since you asked me last week, a call into Mr. de Soto’s office asking for particulars. They haven’t gotten back to me, so I assume they don’t have them. But I’ll do a follow-up call this afternoon for you.
Did the Secretary-General meet yesterday with Alvaro de Soto?
I thought de Soto was on the list. I’ll have to double-check the appointments for yesterday. If it wasn’t yesterday, then it’s today. But I think he expected to meet with him yesterday. Thank you very much.
(Following the briefing, the Spokesman announced that the Secretary-General had not yet met with Mr. de Soto. That meeting would probably take place tomorrow, and there were as yet no details on the format for the Cyprus talks scheduled for Thursday and Friday.)
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