UN Radio: Peacekeepers Immune From Criminal Court
Annan Voices Concern over Extending UN Peacekeepers' Immunity from War Crimes Court
The UN Security Council has just voted to adopt a resolution to exempt some member states from the proceedings of the International Criminal Court. The court was established last July to try cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, after more than 60 nations ratified the ICC's charter. But the United States, for example, argues that hostile countries could abuse the international court to bring politically motivated cases against American peacekeepers. The Council agreed to a 12-month deferral last year and just a short while ago this was renewed by 12 votes in favor and three abstentions. Before today's vote Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned against the renewal becoming an annual event.
"If it did so, I fear the world would interpret it as meaning that this Council wished to claim absolute and permanent immunity for people serving in the operations it establishes or authorizes, which would undermine not only the authority of the ICC but also the authority of this Council, and the legitimacy of United Nations peacekeeping."
The three countries that abstained are France, Germany and Syria.
WHO says SARS Outbreak May be Ending But Calls for Vigilance
The Head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has said that the outbreak of the flu-like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, may be coming to an end. Dr Brundtland, who was speaking at a conference in Oslo cautioned, however, against complacency and said all countries must be on their guard. WHO spokesperson Maria Cheng explains the reasons behind the organisation's new sense of optimism.
"We've seen a dramatic reduction in the number of cases that have been reported, the number of cases in China has dropped sharply from more than a hundred a day in May to single digits in the last week or so. Singapore has effectively contained SARS but I think if you look at the situation in Canada that's a very good indication that now is not the good time to lose our guard and we must remain vigilant. "
UN Security Council Mission Concludes Visit to Troubled DR Congo town
The UN Security Council Mission to Central Africa has concluded a brief visit to the northeastern town of Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more UN troops are being deployed, following the recent killing of about 500 people during ethnic clashes. The Security Council Delegation led by the French Ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, held meetings with the French military general in charge of the new international military force, officials of the UN Observer Mission in the DRC, MONUC, local community representatives, and humanitarian workers. MONUC spokesman Madnoudje Mounoubai says the three-hour visit was highly significant.
"The coming here of the UN Security Council was full of symbolism. First it coincided with the deployment of the multi-national force, so the people of Bunia were able to see that the international community did not forget them in their suffering and that the international community was serious about helping them to bring peace."
The Security Council delegation has left Bunia for Bujumbura, the capital of neighbouring Burundi.
UN Mediators Seek Final Agreement at Liberian Peace Talks
Some calm has returned to the Liberian capital Monrovia, following days of fierce fighting between government troops and rebels. Thousands of people have been displaced, with many in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile at the Liberian Peace Talks in Ghana, mediators remain confident that a ceasefire and a peace agreement could be signed by the end of this week. The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Liberia Abou Moussa who is at the talks says there's still work to be done to reach final agreement.
"I wouldn't say that there is any agreement yet. I think we are still in the stages of nitty-gritty's of bilateral discussions and getting everybody to agree on the basic principles. We have not reached the stage of final agreement yet but we'll soon be there.