DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
15 November 2002
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of the daily press briefing by the Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, and the Spokesman for the President of the General Assembly, Richard Sydenham.
Briefing by Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General
**Secretary-General in Geneva
As you know, the Secretary-General is in Geneva today. He held a series of meetings there with President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to discuss follow-up to the International Court of Justice decision regarding the border dispute between the two countries over the Bakassi Peninsula. This afternoon, agreement was reached in those discussions to move the process forward in an organized and peaceful manner, taking into account the interests of both peoples. At the end of the meeting, the Secretary-General read out a joint communiqué, reflecting the agreement that had been reached.
Earlier today, the Secretary-General met one on one first with President Biya of Cameroon and then with President Obasanjo of Nigeria. The three men then had a private lunch together, after which they met with their respective delegations.
**Biological Weapons Conference
We have a statement attributable to the Spokesman on the conclusion of the resumed session of the Fifth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention:
“The Secretary-General welcomes the positive outcome of the resumed session of the Fifth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, which concluded its work today in Geneva. The Conference decided to hold annual meetings of the States parties in the next three years leading to the 2006 Review Conference, to address national measures to implement the Biological Weapons Convention and to control dangerous pathogens, as well as better international response to, and investigation of, the alleged use of biological weapons, and improved surveillance of infectious diseases. These agreed steps constitute an encouraging development in the process of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention.”
As you probably noticed today, there are no meetings or consultations of the Security Council today.
**Iraq ‘Oil-for-Food’ Programme
Concerning Iraq and the “oil-for-food” programme specifically, we have upstairs the latest report of the Secretary-General on the oil-for-food programme.
In it, the Secretary-General focuses on the programme’s achievements in improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq, as well as the programme’s shortcomings and the difficulties it faces.
**UNHCR on Colombia
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it has recently recommended that the United States administration grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Colombian nationals currently in the United States. This status is a time-limited, complementary form of protection, which would allow nationals of a designated country to remain in the United States regardless of visa status and/or asylum proceedings.
**UNHCR on Angola
The UNHCR also reports that today the number of spontaneously returned refugees from neighbouring countries into Angola is now estimated to have reached more than 70,000. The main areas of return are four provinces bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. And, in addition, an estimated 860,000 internally displaced persons are believed to have returned home from within the borders of Angola in the same period.
**Other Humanitarian Developments
And in other humanitarian notes, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the United Nations is assisting on the outskirts of Brazzaville, in the Republic of the Congo, some 8,000 people displaced last month by lawless conditions in the Pool Region of the Republic of the Congo. And we have more upstairs from OCHA.
**UNDP in Rwanda
In a meeting last night in Kigali, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, asked the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mark Malloch Brown, for UNDP to coordinate international support for elections due to take place next July, the first presidential and parliamentary polls for Rwanda since the 1994 genocide. Mr. Malloch Brown responded, “The message I’m taking home from this meeting is that Rwanda has come a long way in a very short time and has put a system in place for national reconciliation and elections.” Mr. Malloch Brown then travelled last night to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he is to meet with President Joseph Kabila to discuss the consolidation of peace and security in the Great Lakes region.
**Human Rights in Italy
Dato Param Cumaraswamy, the special rapporteur dealing with the independence of judges and lawyers, today issued a statement, which is available in our Office upstairs, on his recent mission to Italy, in which he concluded that mutual suspicion and mistrust, resulting in tensions between Italy’s magistrates and the Government, continues. The root causes, he said, appear to be the cumbersome legal system and its procedures, which can lead to abuses, and the high-profile trials of prominent politicians. And we have more on that statement upstairs.
This morning, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines signed the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants, both supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. [It was later announced that the signing would take place on Wednesday,
**More on Cameroon/Nigeria Communiqué
I do have one thing just given to me that I have to read out to you, the joint communiqué that was agreed upon in Geneva:
"At the invitation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria met today in Geneva in the Secretary-General’s presence to follow up on the ruling of 10 October 2002 of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In this connection, the two Presidents acknowledged the importance for their countries of respecting their obligations under the United Nations Charter.
"The Secretary-General welcomed Presidents Biya and Obasanjo's renewed commitment, as heads of States of law-abiding countries, to renounce the use of force in their bilateral relations and pursue peaceful ways for the settlement of their boundary differences, as well as the constructive spirit which prevailed throughout the various meetings held today.
"In the course of these meetings, both parties agreed to identify a number of confidence-building measures that would pave the way to resolving many of the issues which are the subject of the ICJ ruling. These include measures considered by the two heads of State in Paris on 5 September and those agreed upon at the ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Commission in Abuja on 30 September, as well as additional relevant measures.
"In addition, the two Presidents agreed on the need for a meeting between the two sides at summit level, at the earliest possible opportunity, to discuss defence and security issues of common concern.
"The two Presidents further agreed to ask the Secretary-General to establish a mixed commission of the two sides, to be chaired by his Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Adballah, to consider ways of following up the ICJ ruling and moving the process forward. The mixed commission will meet in Abuja and Yaoundé on an alternating basis. The first meeting will be held in Yaoundé on 1 December.
"The mixed commission will consider all the implications of the decision, including the need to protect the rights of the affected populations in both countries. The commission shall, inter alia, be entrusted with the task of demarcating the land boundary between the two countries. It will make recommendations on additional confidence-building measures such as the holding, on a regular basis, of meetings between local authorities, government officials and heads of State; developing projects to promote joint economic ventures and cross-border cooperation; the avoidance of inflammatory statements or declarations on Bakassi by either side; troop withdrawal from relevant areas along the land boundary; eventual demilitarization of the Bakassi Peninsula with the possibility of international personnel to observe withdrawal; and reactivation of the Lake Chad Basic Commission.
"The two Presidents agreed to consider what further assistance their two countries would need from the United Nations, and to meet again in due course under the auspices of the Secretary-General to review the progress achieved.
"The Secretary-General reaffirmed his personal commitment and that of the United Nations to continuing to assist Cameroon and Nigeria in their efforts to settle their differences peacefully."
**The Week Ahead
And today being Friday, we have the week ahead for you, to help you plan your week. That’s it for me. Any questions?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Security was very tight coming in this morning. The main entrance was effectively closed. Was this because of Hans Blix’s visit or was there a threat?
Associate Spokesman: My understanding is that it was due to construction at the regular staff entrance. There was nothing else that I’m aware of, but I’ll be happy to check.
Question: All attention is on Iraq, but there are other tense situations, namely, for example, the border situation between Eritrea and the Sudan right now. What is being done to defuse the situation?
Associate Spokesman: The Secretary-General has been involved in following a number of tense issues. So things have been followed, but I’ll be happy to get some more detail to you once I get back upstairs.
Briefing by Spokesman for General Assembly President
Good afternoon. The General Assembly plenary meeting this morning discusses the report of the Secretary-General on assistance in mine action. Some 24 speakers are inscribed to speak.
The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth) takes action this morning on draft resolutions on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and on the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs in the Occupied Territories.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) considers introduction of a draft resolution on macroeconomic policy questions; concludes discussion on environment and sustainable development: protection of global climate; and starts general discussion on sustainable development and international economic cooperation.
The Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) discusses draft resolutions on human rights questions and the report of the UNHCR. It takes action this afternoon on draft resolutions on the advancement of women and promotion and protection of the rights of children.
Coming up on Monday, as I have briefed you over the last couple of days, the open-ended panel of the General Assembly on "Afghanistan: one year later” will be held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber starting at 9 a.m. There will be two panels. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., a panel on political issues. President Kavan will chair both sessions. The moderator of the first panel will be Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The second session, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be on economic issues, moderated by David Malone of the International Peace Academy. The panellists are listed in the Journal today and the media are invited. Starts at 9 o'clock on Monday. Any questions? Thank you.
* *** *
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|