Press Briefing on UN Vienna: 2005 - A Preview
UNIS Vienna organized its annual press briefing today to offer a preview of the main events and plans for the year 2005 of the United Nations organizations and agencies based in Vienna. Spokespersons and public information officers, representing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR in Vienna, Austria) provided representatives of the media, permanent missions, non-governmental organizations and civil society with the main highlights of this year, as planned or anticipated by their organizations. The briefing was chaired by Nasra Hassan, Director, UNIS Vienna/Spokesperson, UNODC, who opened the briefing by outlining the major United Nations events leading up to Millennium Summit +5 in September. Ms. Hassan reminded the participants of the briefing that the year 2005 coincided with the commemorations of the International Year of Microcredit and the International Year of Sport and Physical Education. Ms. Hassan noted the 60 th anniversary of the United Nations as well as the 50 th anniversary of Austrian and Hungarian UN memberships.
Information on 2005 highlights for the International Narcotics Control Board, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the United Nations Postal Administration, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, and the United Nations Environment Programme - Vienna Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention was also made available at the briefing.
Ms. Hassan, in her role as UNODC Spokesperson, continued by naming the major drug- and crime-related publications to be issued this year, such as the World Drug Report, the Andean Regional Coca Surveys, the Myanmar and Afghanistan Opium Surveys. She also announced the annual sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking to be observed on 26 June; the 11 th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in April; and UNODC's year-long chairmanship of the UNAIDS Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations, which is scheduled to conclude with a major event planned for June in Moscow.
Mark Gwozdecky, Spokesperson and Director of Public Information, IAEA, outlined some of the areas of IAEA's work besides nuclear verification. In the area of technical cooperation, Mr. Gwozdecky said the IAEA expected to launch a major campaign with regard to cancer therapy in the developing world. In the area of nuclear safety and security, he mentioned a major event scheduled for March in London, which will look into what exactly is the nature of the nuclear threat in the world today, the first major meeting of its kind. In the area of nuclear energy, another event in March will take place in Paris to mark 50 years of nuclear power. With regard to verifications, Mr. Gwozdecky said Iran and South Korea would remain on the agenda this year. He hoped that inspectors would return to North Korea and Iraq as well. In May, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference is scheduled to take place in New York. Mr. Gwozdecky also told the briefing that the IAEA Board of Governors was currently engaged with the issue of the election of an IAEA Director-General, with Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the current Director-General's term expiring in November 2005. The final decision will be made by the beginning of March.
Daniela Rozgonova, Spokesperson and Chief of Public Information, CTBTO, explained the mandate of CTBTO in terms of its contribution for the early warning system for the Pacific, following the recent tsunami disaster in South- and South-East Asia. The final decision about CTBTO's role in the early warning system will be taken by its Member States and announced at a press briefing in March. Ms. Rozgonova announced that as of 1 August, CTBTO would have a new Executive Secretary, Ambassador Tibor Toth of Hungary. She also mentioned the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, to take place in September, with the two regular sessions of the Preparatory Commission envisaged for June and November, respectively. The annual report for 2004 will be launched in late March, said Ms. Rozgonova, and concluded with referring to the current status of signatures and ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: at present, 170 of 191 Member States have signed the Treaty, and 124 States have ratified it.
Roland Schoenbauer, UNHCR office in Vienna, Austria, told the participants that his office was very active and cooperated closely with the Austrian authorities on the reform of the asylum system. In terms of events, he mentioned the 50 th anniversary of Austria's signing of the Geneva Convention on Human Rights, which will be commemorated in April, and the World Refugee Day to be observed on 20 June. With regard to the tsunami disaster, Mr. Schoenbauer said that UNHCR focused on providing shelter to displaced people and their main concern was to have as many people as possible returning to their original homes.
The briefing was followed by a question-and-answer session.
In response to a question about communication between IAEA and CTBTO after the tsunami disaster, Ms. Rozgonova responded by saying that the data CTBTO collects belonged to the Member States, and was not for CTBTO to share with anyone. Mr. Gwozdecky confirmed that although there was contact between the two organizations, they did not share their data. In response to a specific query, he also confirmed that there was no nuclear explosion in South-East Asia.
About 50 persons representing permanent missions (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Viet Nam, Philippines, Panama, USA), media (BBC, AFP, EFE, ITAR-TASS, Kyodo News, APA, TBS - Tokyo Broadcasting System, Globo News TV, Al Hayat, Okaz Daily, Bloomberg News, Le Monde, Der Standard, Die Presse) and non-governmental organizations attended the briefing. The audience had the opportunity to approach the speakers on an individual basis over coffee served after the briefing.
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