Good News Agency – Year III, n° 4



Weekly - Year III, number 4 –  23 February 2002

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day.

Good News Agency is distributed through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.




Human rights - International legislation - Peace and safety - Economy and development

Solidarity - Health - Energy and safety - Environment and wildlife - Culture and education

UN Secretary-General's briefing to Security Council on Middle East


Human rights



Bellamy and Otunnu hail entry into force of Optional Protocol on Child Soldiers

New York, 12 February - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, today hailed the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The protocol prohibits the use of child soldiers.

"Children have no place in war and deserve the highest level of international protection to keep them from being used as child soldiers" said Mr. Otunnu. "This new treaty is a victory for children who have been neglected, abused and sexually exploited by warring factions for decades." (…)


Africa: Three-day seminar on humanitarian law

Abidjan, 15 February - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Friday that it will hold a three-day international law seminar that will focus on protection of civilians in armed conflicts in Africa. The seminar, which begins on Monday, will be held in Niamey, Niger.

Participants will include representatives from civil society, and international law specialists. Emphasis will be placed on parliamentarians from Africa to whom ICRC hopes to impart international humanitarian law concepts. Strategies to promote it within their respective parliaments will also be examined.

The seminar is organised in collaboration with the African interparliamentary union, Canada, Norway and Switzerland, ICRC said.


Tanzania: Humanitarian message strong in peacekeepers' training

Nairobi, 15 February - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Tanzanian Red Cross Society are currently taking part in a French-sponsored support exercise for African peacekeepers in an effort to impart important humanitarian principles to the participating soldiers.

The military exercise, dubbed Exercise Tanzanite, has brought together more than 2,000 troops from 16 African nations, as well as military observers from around the world, in an effort to improve coordination between different African armies and enhance the ability of African governments to cope with political and humanitarian crises.

The Red Cross movement, through its participation, hopes to familiarise the military forces with its humanitarian operations to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict. (…)



International legislation



Anti-Corruption Coordination Meeting concludes in Vienna

Vienna, 5 February – Steps to improve information sharing and best practices across the United Nations and other partners in the fight against corruption have been discussed at an interagency anti-corruption coordination meeting in Vienna on 4 and 5 February 2002. (…)

Each of the participating agencies presented the initiatives they had been taking in assisting countries and organisations to fight corruption. There followed a discussion of the desirability for better coordination and cooperation in these efforts, a discussion on monitoring of international conventions, and a discussion on the current initiative to draft a UN Convention against Corruption.

The meeting concluded that there are clear advantages for the improvement of information sharing and increased cooperation and coordination in the delivery of assistance to countries and to organisations. These include avoidance of duplication and an ability to learn from the experience of others in exercises similar to those being undertaken. The capture of the necessary information will encompass both past and present projects and will be made available on a timely basis in a format discussed during the meeting. This information could be made available on the Internet on a restricted basis. (…)



Peace and safety



Central African Republic launches national disarmament campaign

11 February - Prime Minister Martin Ziguele of the Central African Republic has launched a national disarmament and arms collection programme, a vital step towards curbing the threat small arms pose to peace and security.

General Lamine Cisse, Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and other speakers at the recent launch in Bangui, the country's capital, underscored the importance disarmament for restoring peace and security to encourage refugees to return home, attract foreign investment and promote human development. Gen. Cisse is head of the UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA). (…)



Economy and development



First pan-european conference on food safety and quality to be held in Budapest

Rome/Budapest, 20 February  - For the first time more than 40 European countries will meet to discuss food safety and quality issues, and how to strengthen consumer confidence after recent food scares. The "Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality" will be held in Budapest, 25-28 February 2002. The meeting is jointly organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It is co-sponsored by the European Community and some FAO/WHO member countries, according to a statement issued by the two UN agencies. (…)

Representatives of governments, industry and consumer organisations will discuss food safety and quality threats, food-borne diseases, the expansion of a Rapid Alert System outside the EU and better communication with the consumer.

The meeting will also make proposals on how to improve the different levels of food safety, regulations and control systems in eastern and western European countries. (…)


IFAD to provide USD 22 Million for microfinance programme worth USD 134 million in the Republic of India

Rome, 18 February – A USD 134 million programme in the Republic of India, the “National Microfinance Support Programme” will receive a USD 22 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund’s Headquarters by Dr. Adarsh Kishore, Additional Secretary, DEA, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Mr. P. B. Nimbalkar, Chairman and Managing Director, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and Mr. Lennart Båge, President of the Fund.

Realising that the microfinance is an important tool for empowerment, sustainable social and economic progress and a key strategy for poverty alleviation, the Government of India has made concerted efforts over the last three decades, to provide financial services to the poor through formal financial institutions (FFIs). (…)


IFAD to support an agricultural modernization programme in the Republic of Uganda

Rome, 15 February – A USD 16.1 million project in the Republic of Uganda, the ‘Area-Based Agricultural Modernization Programme’ will receive a USD 13.2 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A loan agreement was signed today at the Fund, by His Excellency, Vincent Kirabokyamaria and Mr. Lennart Båge, President of IFAD.

The programme is targeted to cover ten districts in southwest Uganda; the intended beneficiaries of the programme include rural dwellers that make up 90% of the area’s 5.3 million inhabitants. There are two major target groups: economically active smallholders living in the rural areas who wish to participate in commercial agriculture; and existing or potential small-scale entrepreneurs and business associations who provide services to rural households. Among the target group, women play a major role in crop and livestock production, processing and small enterprise operations. Although the programme area has a high agricultural potential, varying factors limit the involvement of smallholders in farming operations as a commercially viable business.

The overall goal of the programme is to increase incomes and food security among poor rural households with the objective of modernizing agriculture in the ten districts. (…)


Pakistan: Internet project for farmers launched

Islamabad, 15 February - A Pakistani web site focusing on the development of agriculture and rural communities has launched a mobile Internet information unit to promote the information highway among farmers, an executive of the site told IRIN on Friday. (…) Once conversant with the Internet and its possibilities, farmers can download the latest information on weather, seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, crop diseases and how to obtain loans. At present they rely on state-run radio broadcasts or rural community coordinators for this kind of information. The Internet can also be utilised for information exchanges between farming communities.

This is the first time such a concept has been launched in Pakistan, a country where 70 percent of the population live in rural areas, but where Internet usage remains extremely low, especially outside cities. (…)


Chad: European Commission funds development programme

15 February - The European Commission and the government of Chad signed a cooperation agreement on Monday that will enable the West African nation to benefit from European funds amounting to €202 million (US $176 million) over the next five years, the EC said. The money, drawn from the European Development Fund, will target various sectors, including poverty-reduction programmes, roads and transportation, health, good governance, promotion of democracy and civil society. The funds, which the EC says are non-repayable, will cover programmes from 2002 to 2007.


Globalisation yet to work for the poor in south Asia: report

New Delhi, 14 February – Major rethinking is needed on globalisation in South Asia for social costs to be minimised and economic benefits to be maximised.  This is the principal message of the new Human Development in South Asia 2001 Report that was launched in India, here today. The Report, prepared by the Islamabad (Pakistan)-based Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre addresses the theme of Globalisation and Human Development. The India launch was jointly organised by the Parliamentarians Forum for Human Development (PFHD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (…)


UNDP's 'Currency of Ideas' a critical input in India’s development effort, says government

New Delhi, 13 February – The Government of India values the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for its 'currency of ideas' and the value it has added to the entire macro development effort in the country.  This was stated by the Union Secretary, Economic Affairs, Mr.C.M. Vasudev at the concluding session of the two-day Stakeholders Meeting.  The meeting, organised by UNDP to discuss the findings of an independent review of the Country Cooperation Framework (CCF-I) 1997-2002 and to lay the roadmap for UNDP's new programming cycle, 2003-2007 (to harmonise with the Tenth Five Year Plan) for India, was attended by over 150 senior representatives from the Central and State Governments, voluntary and research organisations, donor agencies,  academia, media and the corporate sector. (…)


African countries urge world leaders to attend World Food Summit: five years later

Cairo, 8 February - Agriculture Ministers and delegates from 45 African countries today urged world leaders to attend the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl), in Rome, Italy from 10 to 13 June, 2002. The call came as they concluded the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) 22nd Regional Conference for Africa meeting in Cairo since 4 February.

The WFS: fyl was called to mobilize political will and the monetary resources needed to reduce by half the number of the hungry in the world by 2015, in line with a commitment by heads of State and government of some 186 countries at the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome. At the time, the number of hungry people in the world was believed to be 841 million. To reach the goal of the World Food Summit, the ranks of the hungry would have to be reduced by 20 million people a year. But, FAO statistics show that since 1996 hunger number is declining annually by only 6 million. (…)






WFP food distributions in Zimbabwe get underway

Harare (Zimbabwe), 21 February - The United Nations World Food Programme started its first emergency food aid distributions in Zimbabwe yesterday, delivering a one-month ration of maize-meal to 40,000 people threatened by serious food shortages in Hwange, Matabeleland North.

The distribution, which is being carried out by WFP partner the Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), is part of WFP’s larger operation to hand out one-month food rations to more than 100,000 people over the next two weeks. Distributions to reach some 558,000 people in Zimbabwe’s 19-worst-affected districts in the south, west and extreme north will resume after the March election period.

WFP started a large-scale feeding programme for more than half a million people in Zimbabwe last year after erratic rainfall, a strong economic downturn coupled with a sharp rise in staple food prices, and disruption to the commercial farming sector due to land acquisition activities led to serious food shortages. Zimbabwe is normally a food surplus country. (…)


Nigeria: Local Red Cross aids 20,000 IDPs

15 February - The Nigerian Red Cross began distributing food aid on Thursday to more than 20,000 people displaced by unrest in central Nigeria since last year, the Red Cross said in a statement.  The displaced people live in camps in the central state of Benue, which is populated mainly by the Tiv ethnic group. Some fled clashes in June 2001 between Tivs and Azeris in Nasarawa State (west of Benue). Others were displaced by fighting between Tivs and Jukuns in Taraba State to the east. Still others fled reprisal attacks by the military against Tiv communities after 19 soldiers were killed by a Tiv militia.

The statement said that the food distribution, the fourth phase of relief assistance to victims of last year's clashes, was being done in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies with financial assistance from the British Department for International Development.


Luxembourg and Sweden help alleviate Palestinians' hardships

13 February - Luxembourg and Sweden are supporting projects carried out by the UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) to aid Palestinians facing severe difficulties as the result of the crisis in the area.

Luxembourg is contributing US$2 million for emergency assistance for employment, education and water supply. Half the funds will provide employment for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of closure policies imposed throughout the West Bank. The workers will be hired to rehabilitate and expand deteriorated schools in the West Bank. (…)

Sweden has contributed $1.5 million for training courses for unemployed professionals and workers. "The project employs a new and innovative approach to job creation through training," said Mr. Rothermel.

The initiative uses the resources of 75 civil society groups and private sector institutions, which have trained more than 2,400 unemployed university graduates and 1,495 workers, more than one third of them women. (…)






Africa: Making VCT more youth-friendly

15 February - Voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) programmes have been known to increase the adoption of safe sex behaviour among adults, but not all VCT services are effective and appropriate for young people, a study has found.

In both Kenya and Uganda, large numbers of young people were aware that HIV testing was available to them but far fewer were aware of a facility close to where they lived. More than 75 percent of untested youth in Kenya and about 90 percent in Uganda expressed an interest in getting a test.

More details:


Côte d'Ivoire mobilizes high level commitment against HIV/AIDS

Friday, 15 February - Côte d'Ivoire is making the campaign against HIV/AIDS a national priority under the leadership of President Laurent Gbagbo.

At a recent ministerial conference in Abidjan to mobilize top government officials, the HIV/AIDS ministry presented a preliminary version of a US$27 million national plan for 2002 - 2004. Participants included 14 government ministers and their chiefs of cabinet, heads of a number of UN agencies and other development partners.

The national plan includes HIV/AIDS prevention activities focusing on youth, women, mobile populations and sex workers; treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and promotion of condom use; and steps to reduce traditional practices contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. It also supports measures to reduce the social and economic impact of the epidemic and protection and care for people living with HIV/AIDS. (…)


Afghanistan: WHO sends huge consignment of medical supplies

15 February - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has dispatched 300 mt of medicines and supplies to help three million people survive Afghanistan's harsh winter, a spokesperson for the agency told IRIN on Monday. "In a humanitarian crisis, food, shelter, and water are the essential components needed to save lives, but without medicines to treat common diseases, fatality rates can skyrocket," Lori Hieber-Girardet said in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. (…) According to WHO, the biggest killers of Afghans are measles, acute respiratory infections, pregnancy-related complications, diarrhoea and tuberculosis.


USA and Vietnam will assess effects of toxic chemical sprayed by USA during the war

12 February - Four decades after the U.S. started using Agent Orange in Vietnam, the two countries will begin working together to assess the effects of the toxic chemical on human health and the environment.  Agent Orange is a defoliant that contains TCDD, the most dangerous form of dioxin, which causes cancer, immune system malfunction, and birth defects.  The U.S. sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange on Vietnam from 1962 to 1971 in a frustrated effort to expose the enemy and win the war by denying forest cover to jungle fighters.   The practice created one of the most enduring, damaging, and controversial legacies of the conflict; in the first decade after the war, about 50,000 children were born with deformities or paralyses attributed to Agent Orange.  Delegates from the two countries will begin to discuss joint research into the effects at a four-day conference in Hanoi starting in early March.


International AIDS Candlelight Memorial - May 19

The Memorial will take place in more than 1,000 communities and 80 countries. The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is designed to honour the memory of those lost to HIV/AIDS, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, and mobilise community involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year's theme is "Share Your Vision for a Brighter Tomorrow."

For more information on becoming a Candlelight Coordinator or to sponsor a community, visit the website 

E-mail Matthew Matassa


WHO and UNICEF helping respond to new polio cases at Angola/Zambia border

Maximum vigilance against virus importations urged as global polio eradication nears

Brazzaville/Nairobi: The UN agencies involved in the global effort to eradicate polio are helping to plan a major immunization drive in western Zambia and eastern Angola, in response to three polio cases virologically confirmed amongst Angolan refugees. Two joint World Health Organization / United Nations Children’s Fund missions, one to Zambia and one to Angola, are joining the national ministries of health to determine if the virus has spread and to help plan the responsive polio vaccination campaign.

"The challenge will be to reach every child in order to contain the virus, including in areas we have not been able to access in the past, " said Dr Stella Goings, the UNICEF Representative for Zambia. "But, in our efforts to reach these unprotected children, we must ensure the safety of the health workers and the volunteers." (…)


New WHO guide sets the gold standard in health advice for travellers

Travelling does mean taking risks - but not necessarily the ones you think

A new guide for international travellers offers an unparalleled range of advice, on subjects from air travel to yellow fever, on how to avoid infectious diseases and on why you're more likely to be run over by a car than succumb to plague or the Ebola virus. International travel and health sets the gold standard for travel care. This concise but comprehensive book - and accompanying website ( - draws on the World Health Organization's (WHO) global network of medical information to provide the very latest advice on prevention, vaccination, and what to do when travellers do fall ill. The book profiles the more than 30 infectious diseases which are of most significance to travellers, giving clear advice on risks and preventive measures that should be taken. (…)



Energy and safety



Clean Your Air to launch million dollar multi-media campaign for clean electricity in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA, February 15 - Clean Your Air (CYA), a campaign developed by the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC), today announced that it will begin a million dollar multi-media campaign on February 18 in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets, designed to educate and persuade consumers to switch to clean electricity.

For full Text:



Environment and wildlife



Hotspots study sounds alarm for extinctions in the ocean

First survey to identify top ten coral reef hotspots

Paris/Nairobi, 14 February - The world's top 10 coral reef hotspots, areas rich in marine species found only in small areas and therefore highly vulnerable to extinction, are identified for the first time in a study published in the February 15 issue of the international journal, Science.

Based on new research that for the first time compares the range (endemism) of certain key species with known threats to coral reefs from human impacts, the paper is the first of its kind to identify global priority areas for coral reef conservation. Furthermore, it contradicts a long-held contention that marine species are unlikely to become extinct as a consequence of human activities because of their vast geographic ranges in the oceans. (…)



Culture and education



Fight against human trafficking gains awareness-raising tool in global television campaign

Vienna, 19 February - A new video spot is being released today as a part of a global television campaign by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) to increase education and awareness about trafficking in human beings.

The focus of the 30- and 60-second versions of the video spot is the trafficking in men, women and children for bonded and forced labour activities, such as factory work, fieldwork or as domestic servants.  The video spot aims to provide a stark warning to millions of potential victims about the dangers of trafficking, and to raise consciousness among the general public about the epidemic growth of this modern-day slavery.  Trafficking is a global phenomenon, and the video spot is designed to reach audiences in countries where trafficking originates, as well as in destination countries where victims often end up. (…)

The new video spot on human trafficking for bonded and forced labour is currently available in nine languages:  English, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swahili, Hausa and German. (…)


Huge logistical operation heralds start of back-to-school campaign in Afghanistan

Islamabad, 18 February - Two school stationery kits every minute will start rolling off the production line today at UNICEF's classroom materials packing plant in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, marking the start of a huge logistical operation to bring education to Afghan children. The plant will repackage and distribute the kits, each serving 70 pupils and teachers, over the next six weeks as part of the organization's support for the Afghanistan Ministry of Education. (…)

Hundreds of trucks will be used to transport the kits from the Peshawar plant to Kabul, for onward distribution to provincial centres around Afghanistan. In addition, more than 20 airlifts will support the distribution programme, including internal delivery flights and shipment of educational materials from UNICEF's Supply Centre in Copenhagen. The exercise is viewed as UNICEF's biggest logistical operation for many years. (…)


Ghana: Cocoa farming can empower women

15 February - Cocoa farming in West Africa can empower women, reduce poverty and benefit the environment, according to a study published recently by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute. The report was based on the results of a survey of farmers in villages in Western Ghana which aimed to find out how cocoa benefits women, families, communities and the environment.

One of the ways women benefit, the 'Land, Trees and Women' report concludes, is through land acquisition, traditionally denied to women in many parts of West Africa. Through a process known as "gifting," husbands give their wives land rights to cocoa fields in exchange for labour during the early stages of cocoa farming. The report added that when poor women farmers grow cocoa, the whole family benefits as their increased income is more likely to be used to meet the family's basic needs, including nutrition, health care and education.


More equitable globalization and defense of cultural identity: it's the same fight!

Geneva, 14 February  - The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) share a set of strong core values. This natural link between the two organizations was formalized at ILO headquarters in Geneva yesterday, when Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office (ILO), and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary- General of the OIF - and former member (from 1971 to 1978) of the ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations - signed a framework agreement confirming their willingness to develop their institutional relations and joint activities for the benefit of the 50 or so member States common to both organizations. (…)


Cluster Development in Pakistan

Since its introduction in 1993, the UNIDO Cluster Programme has improved the competitiveness of small and medium-sized industries (SMEs) in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Bolivia, Madagascar, Morocco and Tunisia. In June 2001, the Programme got underway in Pakistan, with a mission to identify a critical mass of SMEs sharing similar growth constraints, create awareness of the advantages of clustering and to identify counterparts and partners. SMEs are characterised as the building blocks of the economy. They account for about 30% of Pakistan's GDP, 80% of employment, with a 15% share of investment. The economic and social contribution of SMEs can be greatly increased through a Cluster Development Programme, which increases productivity, competitiveness and international market penetration. This in turn has an impact on poverty eradication. (…)



A new consciousness for the planet – Lugano, Switzerland, 9-10 March

This international conference will develop the theme that originates from man’s need to realize the serious forecasts and consequent necessary actions. The meeting, organized by the cultural association Holos International under the auspices of the Club of Budapest, aims at giving, through information and reflection, a contribution to the change for a more harmonious, free, indulgent, responsible life. The conference will deal first with the human consciousness from a scientific point of view; then it will review the planet situation and what can be done to improve it. The third section will focus on the new and ancient ways for a new knowledge.


 Earth Charter Ethics Seminar – New York, April 5-7

An Earth Charter Ethics Seminar will take place and will involve a group of 25 participants. This event will take place from April 5-7, 2002 at The Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York. 25 seasoned scholars (6 from other continents) will attend with interest in shaping a global ethic to explore Earth Charter Ethics in depth.

Initiated by: the Program on Ecology, Justice and Faith (PEJF) in conjunction with the Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE.)  Co-organizers: J. Ronald Engel, Meadville/Lombard Theological School (Chicago) & Co-Director, Hastings Center Project on Nature/Polis/Ethics; Richard Clugston, Executive Director, CRLE, Washington, DC.


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United Nations Secretary-General, briefing Security Council, warns of full-fledged war in Middle East, but says path to negotiating table still exists 

21 February, UN Information Office (Rome) - Following is the briefing by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council on 21 February:


The news from the Middle East is grim.  Day by day, the toll of dead and wounded on both sides mounts.  Day by day, the bitterness and mutual distrust between Israelis and Palestinians intensifies.  Increasingly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict risks sliding towards full-fledged war.  Truly, we are nearing the edge of the abyss.

During the past seven days, there have been more than 60 deaths on both sides.  Unless something happens to change the dynamic, it is all too likely that violence will escalate still further.  Particularly alarming is the growing belief, among both Palestinians and Israelis, that there can be no negotiated solution to the conflict.  As we all know, hopelessness and despair tend to lead to more extreme measures, with tragic consequences for the region.

Eighteen months after the beginning of the second “intifada”, the cost to both Israelis and Palestinians grows ever higher in terms of human suffering, bitterness, disillusion and mistrust.  The key problems remain occupation; security --- the need to end violence including terrorism; and economic deprivation and suffering.  These are inter-linked problems, encompassing the political, security and economic domains.

Yet, even at this darkest of hours, there is still room for hope.  In the midst of the bitterness and the despair, with clamor on both sides for revenge and for ever more desperate and reckless measures, there is a path back to the negotiating table -– if the parties choose to take it.

Let us not forget, Mr. President, that the parties have agreed, in principle, that there is a way out, namely the Tenet understandings and the Mitchell recommendation.  Taken together, these documents defined an array of security, economic, and political measures that would have moved the parties back to the table to negotiate the fundamental issues that divide them.  

However, “in principle” is not “in practice”.  In fact, as we know, the parties have not implemented either of these plans.  If Tenet and Mitchell have not failed, they can certainly not be said to have succeeded.  Clearly, the situation that is now unfolding requires urgent steps, moving beyond a discussion focused on how to pursue Tenet and Mitchell.

New thinking and imaginative new ideas are now being proposed from several quarters.  This is to be welcomed and such ideas should be considered promptly and thoroughly both by the parties and by the international community.

A reduction in the violence is the most immediate priority.  But I have become more and more convinced that trying to resolve the security problem on its own cannot work.  Security cannot be dealt with in isolation.  It has to have a context.  It has to be addressed alongside key political issues, particularly the question of land, and the economic and social issues, including the increasingly critical desperate conditions of the Palestinians.

Failure to address these issues together will only spawn new and perhaps deadlier exchanges of reciprocal violence.  Unless both parties have a political horizon on which their hopes for peace and an improved livelihood can be based, there will be no enduring ceasefire.  It is imperative that both parties exercise maximum restraint, particularly with regard to attacks against civilians.  It cannot be overemphasized that both parties must adhere to their obligations under international law to protect basic rights of civilians, including the right to security.

The lack of mutual confidence between the two sides makes a third-party role essential.  The breakdown of trust is so total that neither side will believe the other when it comes to the implementation of agreements.  I truly believe that it is imperative for the Security Council and the wider international community to work in a concerted manner with the parties towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Middle East.   

As the Council knows, I and my representatives have throughout been in very close contact with leaders on both sides, in the region and among the international community.  However, in light of the gravity of the situation, I have asked my Special Coordinator, Terje Roed-Larsen, to intensify his consultations with the parties, with members of the “Quartet”, as well as with regional and international actors.

Mr. President, the outlook is bleak.  But the present course of events is not irreversible.  There is a high road --- which the parties themselves had been on not so long ago --- as well as a low road.  Let us do everything in our power to persuade the parties to pull back from the brink, and return to the high road.




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Next issue: 8 March 2002


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