The agreement for a Border Liaison Committee came out of the second series of talks held yesterday and today in Jakarta of the Joint Border Committee, which deals with boundary issues between Indonesia and East Timor and comprises UNTAET and government officials.In other news, the East Timor Transitional Cabinet has decided to bill consumers for electricity use, which has been free of charge for nearly two years.The Power Service is dependent upon the donor community for the more than $12 million a year it costs to provide East Timor with power and is now near bankruptcy. There are over 18,000 consumers in Dili alone.”We need to rescue the Power Service in East Timor,” Iain Hook, Director General of Infrastructure Department of the East Timor Transitional Administration, said today. “The first thing we need to do is to start receiving revenues. Donor countries will not invest in the Power Service any longer if they do not see that a sustainable system, including the creation of revenue, is being implemented.” read more

A United Nations Security Council committee has named four additional persons associated with Osama bin Laden who are subject to international sanctions.The four – Ummah Tameer E-Nau, Majeed Sultan, Bashir-Ud-Din Mahmood and Mohammed Abdul Tufail – go by various aliases which are detailed in a list published by the Security Council committee on Afghanistan yesterday. The new entries supplement a consolidated list issued by the panel late last month.Under Security Council resolution 1333 (2000), States must “freeze without delay funds and other financial assets of Osama bin Laden and individuals and entities associated with him as designated by the Committee.”Also yesterday, the Security Council committee on Liberia issued a revised list of persons affected by the sanctions imposed on that country by Council resolution 1343 (2001). According to that text, all States are expected, among other measures, to prevent the entry or transit through their territories of the persons named on the list. read more

“The Secretary-General’s response to the Foreign Minister of Iraq has been shared with members of the Security Council,” spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.Foreign Minister Naji Sabri had sent the letter on Thursday inviting Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), to Iraq for technical discussions.Mr. Annan, speaking to reporters as he entered UN Headquarters today, said his letter would “clarify that we welcome [Iraq’s] invitation, but that we would want to proceed along other lines.”Asked about the position of Council members, the Secretary-General said that they wanted to see Iraq comply with the relevant UN resolutions. “They would want to see the inspectors go in and continue their work, and would want me to continue to work with [Baghdad] to get the inspectors back into Iraq,” he said.During a separate press encounter, the President of the Security Council confirmed this view. “I think everyone is on the same page as far as what is required of Iraq in regard to next steps and the full implementation of existing Security Council resolutions,” said Ambassador John Negroponte of the United States. read more

The 12-month sentence given to the minor, identified only as “X” because he was 14 years old at the time the crimes were committed, was the first case involving a youngster to be tried by the Special Panel of Dili District Court for Serious Crimes, according to the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).During the trial, the court was told that “X” had been abducted and brutalized by the Skunar militia before the crimes were committed. The prosecution had recommended a maximum penalty of time already served, while the defence recommended that no sentence be recorded in light of the particular brutality endured by the juvenile and his young age at the time of the offence.After credit for time served in pre-trial detention, only nine days of the one-year sentence remain to be served. The court suspended the remainder of the sentence, declaring “X” able to return home and free from the conditions of his earlier conditional release.UNMISET’s Human Rights Unit and Timor-Leste’s Social Services are planning a reconciliation meeting between the juvenile and the families of the victims as part of the reintegration process following his release. read more

The $200,000 Sasakawa Environmental Prize will be shared by Xie Zhenhua, Executive Vice-Chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment (CCIED) and Minister of State for the Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA), and Dener Jose Giovanini of Brazil, founder of the National Network for Combating Wild Animal Trafficking (RENCTAS). UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will present the awards 19 November, at the New York Historical Society. A UNEP press statement said Mr. Xie “has worked tirelessly to steer the world’s most populous country and fastest growing economy on an environmentally friendly path.” Mr. Giovanini, UNEP said, founded a group “whose innovative approach to curbing illegal wildlife trafficking has become a model not only in Latin America but also for the rest of the developing world.” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said: “Both individuals have demonstrated, one at the governmental and the other at the grassroots level, how the complex and apparently insoluble problems facing the world can be tackled. Both have shown vision, patience, pragmatism and an understanding of the need to engage and encourage numerous actors and partners if sustainable development is to be realized.” “It had, until recently, been an almost unchallenged belief that China’s dramatic economic growth threatens the environment and health of the region as well as the world. By working through national, regional and local governments, Mr. Xie has shown that this does not have to be the case. He has demonstrated that economic growth can occur without sacrificing the water, air and land upon which we all depend”, he said. “Mr. Giovanini’s achievements towards curbing illegal wildlife trafficking highlight how creative solutions to one of the world’s biggest illegal trades can only succeed if the root cause – namely poverty – is also tackled. His success is even more outstanding when one considers the constant death threats and intimidation aimed at him by those eager to see him fail,” Mr. Toepfer said. Ryoichi Sasakawa, founder of the Nippon Foundation, contributed to social and public initiatives both within and outside Japan, including the establishment of the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize in 1982. He died in 1995. read more

The Secretary-General announced the panel in a letter to all UN staff in which he promised to do his “utmost to ensure that such failures are not repeated either in Iraq or elsewhere.” Besides the work of the panel, he said he would personally review “the serious weaknesses that have been revealed in the management of our security system.” The letter also outlined steps he had taken immediately after the bombing. Mr. Annan indicated that his letter to staff was in response to the report of a UN-commissioned panel to investigate the bombings – led by Martti Ahtisaari, a former President of Finland – which found the UN security systems to be “dysfunctional” and lacking in accountability. Mr. Annan’s letter, addressed to “Dear Colleagues,” said, “Like all of you, I am gravely concerned at the findings of the Independent Panel which I appointed, after the disaster of 19 August, to look into the safety and security of UN personnel in Iraq. The Panel’s report reveals serious shortcomings in our provision of security to UN staff in Iraq. “We owe it to all those affected by the attack on our Baghdad headquarters – the dead, the injured, the survivors, and their families – to do our utmost to ensure that such failures are not repeated, either in Iraq or elsewhere. Indeed, we also owe that to ourselves and to each other.” Mr. Annan said, “I am appointing an independent team of experts to review the responsibilities of key individuals for the lack of preventive and mitigating actions before the attack on 19 August. “Secondly, I am reviewing the serious weaknesses that have been revealed in the management of our security system,” he said. The letter outlined other investigations and reviews he ordered immediately after the bombings, saying that the Ahtisaari report would help their work, and he reported that he had ordered the remaining international staff in Baghdad to relocate temporarily for consultations with security staff from UN Headquarters in New York. The relocation of the Baghdad staff had been announced yesterday. Mr. Annan said, “As Secretary-General, I will spare no effort in acting on the conclusions of the Panel’s report. I deeply regret the systemic failures that it has revealed, and I look forward to your support in our endeavours to rectify them.” read more

Mr. Annan was joined by Chile’s President Ricardo Lagos and Finland’s President Tarja Halonen at the roundtable in Santiago de Chile, held at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).Mr. Annan told the roundtable that the world must act collectively to fight common threats, and said the UN had to reform its architecture to maximize the effectiveness of collective action.Last night at an official dinner hosted by President Lagos, Mr. Annan said Latin America’s potential and challenges were a microcosm of the same potential and challenges facing the globe.The Secretary-General now travels to Guayaquil, the biggest city and the main port in Ecuador. He will then visit Peru and Bolivia before his South American tour ends. read more

“All sides of the conflict have been perpetrating, sometimes in different forms and extent, grave human rights violations,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Ambeyi Ligabo, who just returned from the country. “Sadly, the existence and the relentless activities of guerrilla and paramilitary groups have created fear and intimidations in the lives of ordinary citizens, substantially hampering their freedom of expression.” This right is being limited because of drug trafficking, the ongoing civil conflict, and the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few, he said. The “long and painful delay in the investigation of crimes coupled with many unsolved cases of murder of journalists, trade unionists and teachers that may never successfully be concluded” have also fostered a culture of impunity, creating a climate of intimidation and fear, he added. The expert also cited “an obscured linkage between purveyors of corruption, various armed groups and some sections of the military-law enforcement agencies.” Mr. Ligabo urged the Government to consider the fight against impunity as a major priority. “Perpetrators of human rights violations should be brought to justice regardless of their political affiliation or status in society,” he stressed. He also called on the authorities to review their protection programmes and reinforce protection for journalists, trade unionists, teachers and human rights defenders. He also voiced concern about an anti-terrorist decree adopted at the end of last year. “Through this new decree, emergency measures like body searches, telephone tapping and control of private correspondence would be authorized without a judicial mandate,” he said, adding, “It goes without saying that such measures will harshly affect freedom of opinion and expression.” Indigenous peoples, the Afro-Colombian minority and other ethnic groups still suffer discrimination, intolerance and social exclusion, he noted, calling on the Government to reiterate its firm commitment to human rights. read more

As the eleventh United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) opened today in São Paulo, Brazil, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on civic groups attending a parallel gathering to maintain pressure on governments to keep their global anti-poverty promises.“Non-governmental organizations, church groups, labour unions and others have been working relentlessly to make sure that international trade and globalization work for the poor, not against them,” Mr. Annan told the Civil Society Forum. He hailed participants for “extracting” commitments from governments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set at a UN summit in 2000.Those targets, to be met by 2015, include halving the number of poor and hungry people, achieving educational parity for boys and girls and fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.“I know that some groups have said they should really be called the ‘minimum’ development goals,” he observed. While acknowledging that the targets are not utopian, he said they were achievable given adequate political will. ”But we need to take action now,” he said, stressing the role of local public mobilization in influencing national leaders. “What would really make a difference is if, at the local level, the goals achieve a critical mass of support and even become ‘vote-getters.’” “You can and must help make that happen,” he urged. “Liberated by the advance of democracy, linked by shared interests and by the Internet, increasingly effective at using your consumer and voting power, you have the weight to tip the balance. So please, keep up the pressure!” read more

Mohamed Sahnoun, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Africa, is representing the UN, which has observer status in the talks convened by the African Union (AU), UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said today.This week’s meeting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, is a follow-up to talks in Addis Ababa in June between Khartoum and the two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).In New York, the Security Council was briefed on the situation in Darfur by UN Assistant Secretary-General Tuliameni Kalomoh. Following the closed-door meeting, the Council President, Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov, told reporters that the members “urged all parties to work together to end the violence and resolve the issues that would relieve the ongoing humanitarian suffering in Darfur.”The President’s press statement also urged the Sudanese Government and all other parties involved to continue to cooperate closely with the African Union and the UN in seeking a resolution of the crisis. Jan Pronk, the most senior UN envoy on Sudan, also discussed the situation in Darfur when he met today in Khartoum with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is visiting the country.Mr. Pronk, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, and Mr. Straw focused on the upcoming mission to Darfur by a delegation from the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM) – a body set up by the UN and Khartoum after Mr. Annan visited the country in July.More than 1.2 million people are internally displaced within Darfur and another 200,000 are refugees in neighbouring Chad, mainly because of attacks by Janjaweed militias, who are allied to the Sudanese Government forces fighting the rebel groups.JIM was set up to make sure the UN and Khartoum implement their promises, especially Khartoum’s pledges to disarm the Janjaweed and restore security for the vast population of vulnerable IDPs.In other developments:Mr. Pronk and Mr. Straw also discussed the peace talks taking place in Naivasha, Kenya, between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in a bid to end the separate, 21-year civil war in the country’s south.The Sudanese Government has sent a high-level delegation to the West Darfur town of Masteri to probe last week’s reports from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that a fresh batch of 30,000 people from Darfur are considering fleeing to Chad. read more