DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
FOR INFORMATION OF UNITED NATIONS SECRETARIAT ONLY
Ahmad Fawzi, Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros- Ghali, began today's noon briefing by saying that the Secretary-General had delivered an address at the University of Bordeaux, where he was given an honourary doctorate in law. Before going to Bordeaux, at 12:30 p.m. Paris time, he met the French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe. They spent an hour together. The meeting was also attended by Alain Lamassoure, the French Minister of the Budget, who is also the Spokesman of the French Government. The men had a very extensive tour d'horizon of a number of issues, after which the Prime Minister hosted a luncheon for the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General the left Paris for Bordeaux at approximately 3 p.m.
The Deputy Spokesman said the Secretary-General's speech concentrated on the major challenges facing the international community of tomorrow, including what he calls the "democratic imperative" and the international law of democracy. He spoke about the role of the United Nations, as well as the role that democratic values can play. Copies of the speech had been distributed.
Mr. Fawzi said that yesterday in Paris the Secretary-General had met with the French Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette. Their meeting lasted 70 minutes. They reviewed the financial crisis of the United Nations and reform of the Organization. They discussed questions relating to the agenda for the G7 Summit due to be held in Lyon, France, in late June. The Secretary-General has been invited to attend the Summit as an observer, and to participate in the Summit's discussion on development. The Secretary-General and Mr. de Charette also discussed the United Nations talks with the Iraqi Government on the "oil-for-food" formula outlined by Security Council resolution 986 (1995), and they reviewed the file on Yemen and Eritrea. (The Secretary-General visited both countries in December 1995, at which time the dispute had just flared between Yemen and Eritrea regarding the Red Sea islands of Hannish.) The Secretary-General and the French Foreign Minister also discussed the fight against international terrorism, in the wake of the Summit for Peacemakers held 13 March in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The Deputy Spokesman said that earlier yesterday, 21 March, the Secretary-General met with the President of the Arab World Institute in Paris. That meeting was followed by a luncheon with all the Arab ambassadors in Paris, as well as senior French government officials. Tomorrow, the Secretary-General would be meeting with the Governor of Bordeaux, before returning to Paris to take a flight to Beijing, beginning the Far East tour that will also take him to Tokyo and Seoul.
Today is World Water Day, Mr. Fawzi said. A message from the Secretary- General on the occasion was available (Press Release SG/SM/5931 issued 21 March). Assistant Secretary-General Wally N'Dow, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), was attending a World Water Day ceremony in Beijing. It was possible that he would be delivering the Secretary-General's message.
The Deputy Spokesman said he was very pleased to say that the five United Nations staff taken hostage yesterday by Somali gunmen had been released today. One of the reasons they were released was that local villagers heard news of the kidnapping on BBC radio. They shot at the kidnappers and apprehended them. After that, the hostages were released by villagers to United Nations local staff. The hostages arrived in Mogadishu around 4 p.m. local time. They were all in good health and were returning to Nairobi tomorrow, 23 March. A press release from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the incident was available in the Spokesman's Office. For those seeking more information, the release included phone numbers for UNICEF information officers in Geneva and Somalia.
Mr. Fawzi noted that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had issued a press release (CC/PIO/048-E) announcing the indictment of four alleged perpetrators of crimes against Bosnian Serb victims. The press release was available in the Spokesman's Office. It gave the names of those indicted, as well as comments from the Prosecutor, Justice Richard Goldstone. The indictment arose out of the operation of a detention facility located in the Konjic municipality in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. It referred to events that took place in the camp in 1992. The camp detainees were Bosnian Serbs from the region. They were subjected to serious violations of international law such as murder and torture (including rape of female detainees).
Quoting the press release, the Deputy Spokesman said, "This indictment, the first dealing with Bosnian Serb victims, illustrates the even-handed policy which has been repeatedly stated by Justice Goldstone, namely 'to investigate and prosecute persons who may be responsible for crimes irrespective of the political or ethnic group to which they belong'".
Mr. Fawzi said there was a second press release (CC/PIO/047-E) that provided background on the arrest in Munich, Germany, on Monday, 18 March, of Gora Lajic, one of the people named in an indictment issued by the Tribunal on 21 July 1995. In the press release, the Tribunal acknowledged the decisive contribution made by Interpol to Mr. Lajic's arrest.
The second round of the All-Inclusive Intra-East Timorese Dialogue concluded today, the Deputy Spokesman said. Those talks, which were designed to be a free and informal exchange of views among leaders and officials concerned with East Timor, opened 19 March at Burg Schlaining, Austria. The
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Spokesman's Office had received from Vienna the "Burg Schlaining Declaration" issued at the conclusion of the talks. It confirmed the importance of the ongoing negotiations between the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, with a view to finding a just, comprehensive and internationally accepted solution to the question of East Timor. Copies of the Declaration were available in the Spokesman's Office.
Turning to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Fawzi said the figures of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) indicated that, as of 21 March, the force had 712 civilian police deployed, 413 of them in the Sarajevo region, 143 in Tuzla, and 156 in Banja Luka. There were 204 civilian police monitors undergoing training in Zagreb, prior to deployment. In addition, the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) had 156 officers deployed in Eastern Slavonia, and the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) had 20 officers deployed in Macedonia. A copy of the figures was available in the Spokesman's Office.
He said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of the United Nations operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Syed Iqbal Riza, was attending a contact group meeting in Moscow tomorrow. In two of the sectors of the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja -- Dobrinja 1, inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, and Dobrinja 4, inhabited by Bosniacs -- the situation remained tense, with incidents involving verbal attacks, threats and intimidation by residents incurring with increasing vehemence. A demarcation line cut through two apartment buildings in that area, and the Inter-Entity Boundary Line Commission met yesterday to try to resolve the matter. Unable to do so, they will meet again on 30 March. In the meantime the IPTF Police Commissioner, Peter Fitzgerald, had written letters to the Federation and to the Serb police asking them not to enter the contested area.
The Deputy Spokesman said that yesterday the Security Council had reviewed the sanctions against Libya. It had found there was no agreement that the necessary conditions existed for the modification of those sanctions. The Council was also briefed by the United Nations Legal Counsel, Under- Secretary-General Hans Corell, on the United Nations talks with Iraq on implementation of resolution 986 (1995). No Security Council consultations were scheduled for today.
In other matters, Mr. Fawzi said the long-awaited report of the Commission of Inquiry into the supply of arms to the former Rwandan Government in the Great Lakes Region (document S/1996/195) had been issued today, along with a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council. The daily report on the financial situation indicated that, as of today, the United Nations was owed $3.1 billion -- $1.2 billion for the regular budget and $1.9 billion for peace-keeping. The former $3.2 billion figure was as of
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15 March. "Since then, there have been a few little trickles that brought the figure down to $3.1 billion."
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was holding an event in Timbuktu. More information could be obtained in the Spokesman's Office. On Monday, 25 March, at 11 a.m. in room 226, the Mission of Georgia was sponsoring a press conference featuring the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, Tamaz Nadareishvili. Today, the United Nations University was holding a public forum, "Women and Mainstreaming: Towards a Research Agenda", from 1 to 3 p.m. in Conference Room 7.
A correspondent asked if the Deputy Spokesman had an update on the World Food Programme (WFP) ship that was carrying rice to flood victims in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and sank Tuesday, 19 March, in the Taiwan Strait. He said he did not. As of yesterday afternoon, the WFP was sending another ship carrying 8,244 tons of rice. It was scheduled to arrive between 15 and 20 April. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yasushi Akashi, had reiterated his department's readiness to launch another inter-agency appeal for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, if so requested by that Government. The previous joint appeal by United Nations agencies in September last year received only 45 per cent of the $20 million requested. It was necessary once again to rally international support for the serious situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he said.
A correspondent said the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the supply of arms to the former Rwandan Government stated that it was highly probable that Zaire had violated the Security Council's embargo relating to such arms supplies. He asked if that was the first time that a commission established by the Security Council had named a country as violating a Security Council arms embargo. And what happens now? he asked.
Mr. Fawzi said he could recall previous commissions stating that Member States were in violation of Security Council resolutions, including sanctions, though perhaps not arms embargoes. The matter was now up to the Security Council. It would study the report, go through the recommendations, and decide what it, as a representative of the international community, wished to do.
A correspondent said the Secretary-General had said that voluntary contributions had not been made to fund the Commission and its costs would have to be paid out of the United Nations regular budget. How much had the Commission cost to date?
The Deputy Spokesman said he did not have a figure and would look into it. "We are obviously facing a very severe shortage of funds", he said. "In fact, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) is meeting today to discuss the question of funding some of the existing missions. We have been asked to fund them from existing resources, which, as
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I have said before, are in reality non-existent. The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) is going to take the matter up on Tuesday."
Asked if he could provide a breakdown of the number of people indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Mr. Fawzi said he could and would.
A correspondent said the Tribunal's press release claimed the indictment of the four Muslims indicated the Tribunal was pursuing an even-handed policy. However, did it not in fact reveal just the reverse, since it had taken four years to bring indictments for crimes committed by Muslims, and in the meantime 40 Bosnian Serbs had been indicted?
The Deputy Spokesman said he would stand by the statement of Justice Goldstone quoted in the press release.
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