UN Radio: Liberian President Indicted War Crimes
Liberian President Indicted for War Crimes
The United Nations-backed war crimes court for Sierra Leone has indicted President Charles Taylor of Liberia. Desmond de Silva is the Deputy prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone:
"The indictment alleges that he is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law within the territory of Sierra Leone."
The indictment was announced by the tribunal soon after President Taylor arrived in neighbouring Ghana for peace talks. The deputy prosecutor says the international community was urged by the Security Council to give the court whatever assistance it requires:
"If a country like Ghana finds itself with a fugitive of its territory, it would be complying with a Security Council resolution were they to effect the arrest."
Taylor becomes the first serving head of state to face war crimes charges since Slobodan Milosevic was indicted by the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Annan Urges Liberian Parties to Agree on Ceasefire
Secretary-General Kofi Annan says for too long Liberia has been torn apart by disastrous conflict. In a message to the Liberian Peace Conference in Accra, Ghana, the Secretary-General urges all parties to agree on a ceasefire and an end to violence. UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard quotes the Secretary-General as saying that lasting peace cannot be imposed from the outside and that Liberian leaders must demonstrate a genuine and concrete readiness to restore peace and stability to their country:
"It is they who must uphold this responsibility, make the compromises and difficult choices needed for peace and respond to the overwhelming pleas of the Liberian people for peace. I hope they will take full advantage of the window of opportunity offered by this gathering, he said."
The conference is attended by African heads of State, representatives of Liberian political parties, the rebel movement - LURD - and members of the International Contact Group on Liberia, among others.
UN Withdraws Military Observers from Eastern Congolese Town
The United Nations has withdrawn its unarmed military observers from an eastern Congolese town after they were informed by local authorities of threats against their lives. The evacuation comes less than three weeks after the remains of two military observers were discovered in a town in the volatile northeastern Ituri province. Meanwhile, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) be extended for another year until June 2004. The Secretary-General also called for the authorized military strength of the mission to be boosted to over 10,000 troops.
Annan Welcomes Renewed Importance of Mideast Peace Process
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
has welcomed the importance given to the renewed Middle East
peace process by today's summit in Aqaba, Jordan.
A UN spokesman says the Secretary-General believes that statements from the Israeli and Palestinian leaders open the way for both parties to implement the Road Map proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East Peace Process. The quartet is made up of the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and Russia. The Secretary-General called on the leaders to take immediate steps as outlined in the Road Map to maintain the momentum generated by today's summit.
World's Groundwater Supply Under Threat: UNEP
The UN Environment Programme has charged that
pollution and overuse of hidden underground water supplies
threaten global health and development. The agency said
governments often had little understanding of the social,
economic and health risks of sucking their groundwater
In a report on the eve of World Environment Day, Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said that across the globe ground water is being depleted by the demands of mega-cities and agriculture, while fertilizer run-off and pollution are threatening water quality and public health.
Water is the theme of this year's Environment Day to be observed Thursday.
UN Report Portrays Mixed Picture in Asia-Pacific Region in Promoting Millennium Development Goals
A report out today has characterised poverty
reduction measures in the Asia-Pacific region as a "striking
success", but "missed opportunities".
The report titled Promoting the Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific, states that while the region has achieved "one of the largest decreases in mass poverty in human history", huge challenges still exist in the fields of basic education, gender equality, child health, maternal mortality and environmental sustainability.