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

6 May 2004

Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General and Michèle Montas, Spokeswoman for the General Assembly President.

Good afternoon.


Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, arrived in Baghdad a few hours ago.

He has already had two meetings with Iraqi leaders: Governing Council President Ezzedine Salim and Adnan Pachachi.

They discussed the political transition. Brahimi listened to their views on the formation of the new caretaker government.

Later in the day, Brahimi met with US Administrator Paul Bremer.

**Iraq –- Human Rights

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today said it will present a report on the situation in Iraq to the Human Rights Commission on 31 May.

The report will look at the military and security situation, including acts of terrorism, the protection of civilians and the treatment of persons in detention, among other subjects. It will explore the period from April 2003 through May 2004.

Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan has written to Administrator L. Paul Bremer, members of the Iraqi Governing Council and the foreign ministers of the countries participating in the Coalition forces, asking them to provide any information they consider to be relevant.

The team working on the report plans to visit Amman, Beirut and other neighbouring capitals to conduct interviews with persons wishing to provide relevant information. Should circumstances permit, the Acting High Commissioner and members of his team would be ready to visit Baghdad, as well.


The head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, welcomed the handing over of several hundred weapons yesterday in the province of Wardak. But Arnault also expressed his serious concern about the stalled disarmament programme in the country.

That programme, he warned, has not yet started, and the possibility that it will be completed in time is now in serious jeopardy.

Many of the military units that have yet to be decommissioned or downsized, Arnault added, have been involved in factional fighting over the past two years.

He warned that further stalling of the disarmament programme is bound to have negative consequences. We have more details in today’s briefing notes from Kabul.

**Security Council

The Security Council this morning was told about the significant progress in weapons destruction in Bougainville, where UN observers have certified that five out of 10 districts have completed their weapons disposal programmes.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk told the Security Council, in an open meeting, that Bougainville has become a success story. He credited the Government of Papua New Guinea, the people of Bougainville, regional partners and “a small but very efficient UN Mission” for the momentum in the peace process.

At 4:30 this afternoon, the Security Council will also meet with the countries that contribute troops to the UN Mission in Timor-Leste. An open meeting on Timor-Leste is scheduled for next Monday.

**Security Council -- Darfur

As the Security Council President mentioned to you at his press conference earlier this week, Council members are scheduled to hear back-to-back briefings on Darfur under “other matters” in consultations tomorrow.

James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), who led a humanitarian mission to the Darfur region would brief on its findings. He will speak to you at the stakeout following consultations.

A briefing on the recently completed human rights mission to Darfur is also expected by the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan.


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jacques Paul Klein, and National Transitional Government of Liberia Chairman C. Gyude Bryant have formally launched the recruitment campaign for the new Liberian Police Service.

Over the next two years, 3,500 men and women will be recruited and trained for a new police service in Liberia.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers has concluded his mission to West Africa by appealing for funds to help repatriate and reintegrate Liberian returnees, starting in October.


A report released by the Government of the Gambia and UNICEF reveals that sexual abuse and exploitation of children is on the rise in the tiny West African nation, which is a favourite destination for tourists from several European countries.

**WFP/North Korea & Angola Wrap

The World Food Programme is warning that tens of thousands of Angolan refugees in Namibia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are facing hunger when they return home this year because of a funding shortage. WFP is due to help almost 70,000 refugees return home this year -– some of them have spent decades living in refugee camps.

The agency says it’s had a sluggish response to its appeals to support refugee programmes –- overall, it needs at least $136 million to feed more than a million Angolans who’ve already returned home or are scheduled to be repatriated this year.

We have a release on this available upstairs, and we also have one on WFP’s activities in North Korea, in which it says its programmes remain critically under-funded.

**UN Security

Finally, to enhance security here at UN Headquarters, we are beginning a number of projects to upgrade the facilities, including by replacing the First Avenue fence with a new perimeter fence and new gates. We will also be enhancing the lighting and surveillance systems along the perimeter, to deter unauthorized entry.

That work will become visible to you starting tonight and early tomorrow morning, when trailers will be moved onto the North Lawn, as a staging area for the security and construction work to be performed in the coming months.

The perimeter fence currently present at First Avenue was not part of the initial design for the UN Headquarters building. It was added later, in consultation with New York City’s Parks Department, to be compatible with the fences that encircle other city parks.

The new fence was designed by the Parks Department, and was personally approved by the Secretary-General.

We hope to have some sketches for you that you could see in my office this afternoon. [The Spokesman later confirmed the sketches were available in his office].

That’s all I have for you. Any questions?

Yes, Bill?

Questions and Answers

Question: Yesterday, Fred, you said that Mr. Volcker might have a statement forthcoming concerning some of the issues relating to release of the contracts out et cetera. Is he going to come here to make that personally or are you going to have a statement on his behalf? What is the plan there?

Spokesman: He is currently in London. We’ve been in touch with him today. And he is expected to release a statement from there, most likely through us. And we expect that could happen in the course of this afternoon. Mr. Abbadi?

Question: Who is accompanying Ambassador Brahimi to Baghdad?

Spokesman: He has a small group with him, including Ahmad Fawzi as Spokesman. I don’t have the names of the others. Bill?

Question: What is the cost of the security work being done?

Spokesman: I don’t have that figure here. I am sure this has all gone through the ACABQ in the Fifth Committee. But we will get that number for you after the briefing. [He later announced that the cost of the security perimeter fence was $21 million].

Michèle Montas is with us today to talk about the General Assembly, so I am going to give her the podium now.

Spokeswoman for General Assembly President

Spokeswoman for General Assembly President: Thank you Fred. Good afternoon. The General Assembly is presently meeting on the Question of Palestine. A resolution sponsored by 28 States on the status of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem reaffirms that the status of the Palestinian territory, occupied since 1967, remains one of military occupation and that Israel has no sovereignty over any part of this territory. This draft has been modified from an earlier one presented in December questioning Israel’s credentials and should be voted on in the next few minutes. Eight speakers were listed to take the floor this morning.

The Assembly also adopted, by consensus today, two resolutions. One presented by the President of the General Assembly concerns the follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit. The General Assembly decided to convene in New York in 2005 at the commencement of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly with the participation of heads of State and government on dates to be decided by the Assembly at its fifty-ninth Session. It also decided that this major event will undertake a comprehensive review of the progress made in the fulfilment of all the commitments contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, including the internationally agreed development goals and the global partnership required for their achievement.

By consensus the Assembly also included in its agenda the Financing of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti; a matter to be referred to the Fifth Committee.

This is all we have today, thank you.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General: Thank you very much.

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