In a Presidential statement read out by French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, the Council called on the Central African authorities to follow internationally accepted standards for due process in the course of investigations and court trials of individuals involved in the coup attempt last May. “These procedures should be transparent and should not be allowed to aggravate inter-ethnic relations” in the country, he said. “The refugees who left the country after the failed coup should be able to return in safety without fear of persecution on ethnic basis.” The Council also underlined the need to continue restructuring the country’s armed forces “to enable them to fulfil their role effectively, loyally and impartially in the service of the Central African people,” Ambassador Levitte said, recalling the importance of implementing an effective arms collection programme.The Council also encouraged the international community to make substantial and urgent contributions to the country’s recovery while stressing that the efficiency of such a contribution would greatly depend on the efforts of the Government itself. “The Council emphasizes that the issues of external debt and payment of arrears of salary for civil servants need to be urgently addressed,” Ambassador Levitte said.The statement also took note of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s intention, in coordination with the country’s Government, to extend and strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Bureau for the Peace-building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA).In addition, the Council encouraged the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the international financial institutions to consider ways of strengthening the capacities of the Government in the management of its economic and financial affairs, including by lending high-level experts. It also urged the Bretton Woods institutions to show “exceptional solicitude” towards the Central African Republic.
“Kosovo is not at war anymore, so you don’t need weapons – they are simply dangerous,” Mr. Steiner said over the weekend in reaction to last week’s announcement of the amnesty, which will run from 15 March to 15 April and is a joint action of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the international security force (KFOR). “From the 15th on, there is one month for handing over weapons that you still have in your homes,” he said. “This is a golden opportunity for anyone who has still these dangerous weapons at home to hand them over without any prosecution, without any disciplinary actions.” Weapons possession is banned for all residents of Kosovo except those holding weapons authorization cards under UNMIK Regulation 2001/7. Those found in possession of illegal weapons can face a prison term of up to eight years or a fine of up to €7,500. KFOR and UNMIK will set up designated collection points, the Mission said. However individuals may also notify KFOR or police units to pick up weapons or ammunition that may be risky to transport.
Hailing the new venture, Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), stressed that good nutrition – both before and after birth – is essential to helping children’s bodies and brains develop properly. Despite some successes in this area, micronutrient deficiencies are still common in populations in developing countries, she told a joint press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, where a special session of the General Assembly on children is currently under way. Adding vitamins and minerals to staple foods like flour and milk has been a common practice in the industrialized world for decades. The new initiative “will bring the benefits that the industrialized world has had an opportunity to enjoy for some time much sooner to those who are not able to enjoy those at this point,” she added.The alliance was also welcomed by Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa and the President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who took part in the launch event. President Mwanawasa said the initiative would make a positive contribution in his country. “Inadequate iodine in food consumed by Zambians in some parts of the country continues to have devastating effects on pregnant women and young children,” he said. According to GAIN partners, funds available for the first year will be between $20 and $25 million, with more than $70 million committed over five years, including $50 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We see this initiative as extremely important on its own, and also the example of the kind of public-private kind of partnership that can bring together the skills and resources to address crying needs for the world’s children,” said Mr. Gates, the Foundation’s co-founder.Illustrating the impact of micronutrients, Mr. Gates pointed out that in the case of measles, if a child was getting sufficient Vitamin A, mortality was reduce by over 30 per cent. “There’s really a virtuous cycle that we all believe in getting going here and that is: as children are more healthy, they’re able to learn more… women choose to have fewer children, economic opportunities go up,” he said.Mr. Gates cited the success of iodized salt, which had helped young people across the developing world, but added that in the areas of iron, Vitamin A and folic acid, “we’re falling short for literally billions of children.” Addressing the issue of corporate participation, John Pepper, Chairman of the Board of Procter and Gamble, stressed the need for the private sector to support governments in the area of nutrition. “It’s a question of will, it’s a question of focus, and it’s a question of organization,” he said. “We have technologies that we know now can bring iron, iodine, Vitamin A and others at an extremely low cost into a variety of foods which people have every day.”
Opening “Global Food Security and the Role of Sustainable Fertilization”, a high-level conference in Rome jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik said the campaign to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to increase agricultural production while making sustainable use of natural resources, was a joint effort shared by both public and private institutions.Mr. Harcharik noted that many developing countries needed to apply more plant nutrients to meet agricultural development goals. He stated that integrated plant nutrition management provided by judicious use of both mineral and organic fertilizers is necessary for sustainable agricultural development.The depletion of nutrient stocks in the soil, which is occurring in many developing countries, is a major but often hidden form of land degradation, making agricultural production unsustainable, according to FAO.Major topics to be discussed include the challenges for successfully managing fertilizers in commercial farming systems in both developed and developing countries as well as under subsistence conditions. With an emphasis on future actions, the conference also covers emerging technologies and knowledge about crop nutrient management, links between fertilizer use and human nutrition and the contribution of various sectors including the fertilizer industry, international organizations, governments and researchers.
“Clearly, we must work even harder to match our commitment with the necessary resources and action,” Mr. Annan said in a message marking World AIDS Day, observed each year on 1 December. “We cannot claim that competing challenges are more important, or more urgent. We must keep AIDS at the top of our political and practical agenda.” Referring to the General Assembly’s adoption in 2001 of the Declaration of Commitment, a set of specific, time-bound targets for fighting the epidemic, he declared: “Today, we have the commitment. Our resources are increasing. But the action is still far short of what is needed.” He noted significant new funding from governments and through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but he added: “We have failed to reach several of the Declaration’s targets set for this year. Even more important, we are not on track to begin reducing the scale and impact of the epidemic by the target year of 2005. “By then, we should have cut by a quarter the number of young people infected with HIV in the worst-affected countries; we should have halved the rate at which infants become infected; and we should have comprehensive care programmes in place everywhere. At the current rate, we will not achieve any of those targets by 2005,” he added. Stressing the need to speak openly about AIDS, Mr. Annan declared: “No progress will be achieved by being timid, refusing to face unpleasant facts, or prejudging our fellow human beings – still less by stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. Let no one imagine that we can protect ourselves by building barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ In the ruthless world of AIDS, there is no us and them. And in that world, silence is death. “On this World AIDS Day, I urge you to join me in speaking up loud and clear about HIV/AIDS,” he concluded. “Join me in tearing down the walls of silence, stigma and discrimination that surround the epidemic. Join me, because the fight against HIV/AIDS begins with you.”
A resolution on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine was passed with 160 States in favour, six against, and five abstentions. The text welcomed the Security Council’s vision of a two-State solution and reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to the so-called Road Map peace process.The resolution called on both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to fulfil their Road Map obligations and stressed the importance of a credible, independent monitoring mechanism.The Road Map – a peace process co-sponsored by the diplomatic Quartet of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the UN and the United States – calls for parallel and reciprocal steps leading to Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security by 2005.A resolution supporting the work of the Assembly’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and calling for the work to continue, was approved by 97 States, with seven States against the resolution and 60 abstentions.A resolution calling on the UN Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights to be allowed to continue its work was passed by 98 States, with six States against the resolution and 63 abstentions.A resolution requesting the Secretariat’s Department of Public Information be allowed to maintain its special information programme on the question of Palestine was approved by 159 countries, with six countries voting against and a further six abstaining.There were two other resolutions dealing more broadly with the Middle East that were also passed in the Assembly.A resolution urging Israel to withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan region back to its pre-1967 border was approved by 104 States. Five States voted against the resolution and 61 States abstained.The other resolution stated that any moves by Israel to “impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem” should be regarded as illegal and therefore invalid. It also deplored the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem in violation of an earlier Security Council resolution. This resolution was passed by 155 States, with eight nations against and seven abstaining.
In a tribute given yesterday at the Anti-Defamation League’s gala celebration of the 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate’s seventy-fifth birthday, Mr. Annan said through his unforgettable books on the Holocaust and “the face of absolute horror,” Mr. Wiesel had done as much as anyone else to raise public awareness of the plague of anti-Semitism. “It is that combination of eloquence and empathy that led me to ask him to become a United Nations Messenger of Peace,” Mr. Annan said of the Romanian-born author and journalist. The collective conscience, on which Mr. Wiesel had made a historic and profound imprint, could not help but be deeply troubled by violence and injustice in the Middle East, by divisions on so many issues, by despair in so many places, he said. These challenges had solutions only when people’s consciences were duly aroused. “Elie, the world needs you to carry on doing what you do best. And that is to speak out, build bridges and raise the alarm about the wrongs afflicting our world,” Mr. Annan said.
A recent case involving a group of Eritrean nationals who arrived in Sudan from Libya aboard a hijacked plane “reveals the seriousness of the situation, and the vulnerability of refugees and asylum seekers in Libya,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. The group told UNHCR they had been detained without charges for a long time in the Libyan town of Kufra, had endured repeated physical abuse, and that despite their request to see agency officials they had not been given access to any asylum procedure. They said they were never informed of the decision to deport them to Eritrea, were forced to board a special charter flight, and only found out after their plane took off that the destination was their country of origin. Sixty of the 75 passengers have since been granted refugee status in Sudan. Although Libya is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has not signed a cooperation agreement for a formal UNHCR presence in the country, the agency reminded the Government of its obligations under the 1969 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention on refugees which it has signed and ratified. UNHCR also requests unhindered access to groups in detention in order to be able to identify persons in need of international protection, Mr. Redmond said.
In a recent exchange of letters with this month’s Council President, Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria, Mr. Annan asked for the term of Mr. Sahnoun, a former Algerian ambassador, to be extended until 31 December 2005.”During the first several months of the past year, Mr. Sahnoun continued to lead the United Nations observer delegation at the Sudan peace talks in Kenya and he subsequently followed the talks on Darfur, as well as the peace progress in Somalia. He also represented me at the League of Arab States Summit in Tunis,” Mr. Annan said in the letter, dated 22 December.The Secretary-General added that Mr. Sahnoun had provided advice “on what useful role the UN could play to promote negotiated settlements of conflicts.”In a response on the same day, Mr. Baali said the Council had taken note of the decision.
“I was deeply saddened by the death of Pope John Paul II,” Mr. Annan said in a statement issued in New York. “Quite apart from his role as a spiritual guide to more than a billion men, women and children, he was a tireless advocate of peace, a true pioneer in interfaith dialogue and a strong force for critical self-evaluation by the Church itself.”The Secretary-General, who recalled having the privilege of meeting the Pope several times in recent years, said he was always struck by the Pope’s commitment to having the United Nations become, “as he said during his address to the General Assembly in 1995, ‘a moral centre where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a ‘family of nations.””Mr. Ping, for his part, described the Pope’s passing as “a great loss for Poland, for the Catholic community and for humanity as a whole.”“During his long and intense life of service both as a spiritual leader and as a statesman, the Pope demonstrated a unique and inspiring moral authority to the world,” Mr. Ping said in a statement.“As a Christian, I have been profoundly moved and touched by his faith, by his love for all and by his deep capacity for forgiveness,” he added.Mr. Ping noted that the Pope “worked tirelessly to promote peace, and to bring together people of all races, nations and religious backgrounds. Hence he made tremendous contributions towards upholding the values of the United Nations.”The Pope “will be remembered as a man of great courage and humility, as well as a servant of peace and justice.”