United Nations Contingency Planning Meeting Articles, Etc.--June 1999

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USIA--United Stated Information Agency
21 June 1999


(Turnout a record for specific issue UN meeting) (910)
By Judy Aita
USIA United Nations Correspondent


New York - Bruce McConnell, Director of the International Y2K Cooperation Center (IY2KCC), is clearly pleased at the turnout for two-day seminar on this critical computer-related problem now underway under the auspices of the United Nations.

Representatives of more than 170 nations are attending the June 21-23 conference sponsored by the UN Economic and Social Council's working group on informatics and the IY2KCC. This is the second such conference on the Y2K problem. The first such session was conducted in December, 1998, and resulted in the creation of the IY2KCC.

"This is a record for the number of people to turn out on a particular issue at a United Nations meeting," McConnell told a June 21 press briefing. He called this "a demonstration of global commitment to swat the Y2K bug."

McConnell said that all countries have Y2K programs but much work remains to be done. However the turnout for the current UN conference demonstrates that "there is a strong effort and a global to bring this problem to its knees."

The so-called "Y2K bug" or the Y2K effect will occur when dating systems embedded in computers, microprocessors and software that use only two digits to designate year dates face the transition from years ending in other digits to a year whose last two numbers are "00."

The great fear is that the two-digit date systems would read the year "2000" as "1900." If that happened, the affected computers, equipment and software would refuse to recognize all their stored data and operating instructions and cease to function.

Y2K experts acknowledge that no one really knows what is going to happen down to the last detail when the clock strikes midnight, bringing in the new millennium. The world's computers and automated control systems have never experienced this kind of change before. IY2KCC experts consider the potential date change glitch serious, and note that no family, business, community, or country is immune to Y2K problems. They believe almost everyone will see some type of disruption. In countries where much Y2K work has been done, some people may only see a harmless service warning light go on in their cars. However, in more remote or less developed nations, people could find themselves without food, water, telecommunications or electricity for days or even weeks.

Besides McConnell, a number of regional Y2K coordinators are playing key roles in the seminar, entitled "International Y2K Preparedness: Global Policy Makers Take a Byte Out of Year 2000." They include Amable Aguiluz of the Philippines, coordinator for East Asia and the Pacific; Hugo Castellanos of Venezuela, coordinator for South America; Carlos Jarque of Mexico, coordinator for Central America and the Caribbean; Baba Mustafa Marong of The Gambia, coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa; Susan Page, Australia's Y2K coordinator; and Mario Tagarinski of Bulgaria, coordinator for Central Europe and Asia.

One of the conference's goals is share information and coordinate plans on a regional basis.

But, said McConnell, an equally important goal of the session is to "create a commitment to informing the public about country readiness ... about what systems have been fixed and also what systems have not been fixed and what contingency plans are for making sure that business continues, that continuity occurs."

"This is an unprecedented worldwide event," he said. "We are onto something that is really very different than anything the world has experienced before and the level of interest in this issue will only increase over the next six months.

"There is lots of work still to be done, lots of energy is focused on (the problems) but there is also a need to maintain public confidence that we are working on it," McConnell said.

In Africa, the Y2K coordinators have decided they "should not leave it to the media to tell the story for us alone," Marong said. "What we are doing in Africa is to have within the national Y2K set-ups a public awareness committee that would ensure that the accurate, appropriate information is released to the media."

John Koskinen, chairman of the United States Year 2000 Conversion effort said that "there is not a single message that will apply to everyone."

He said that in the United States, the message has been that on basis of what is now known, at minimum people should prepare for this potential emergency in the same way they would prepare for a severe winter snow or ice storm - stockpiling two or three days supply of food and water, flashlights and batteries. But, Koskinen warned, in some areas more might be required.

President Clinton's Council on Year 2000 Conversion is conducting a "national campaign of community conversations trying to get information on what is actually happening at the local levels," Koskinen said.

"Contingency planning does not mean systems are expected to fail," he said. "But since no one can guarantee that every system will function smoothly during the Year 2000 transition, it is prudent to have back-up plans. This is especially true for system work that is scheduled for completion late this year."

Koskinen also said he hopes that the UN meeting will help countries work together to establish a blueprint for sharing information internationally during the date rollover so that all nations can better monitor events as the year 2000 arrives.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), June 22, 1999


U.S. believes the world is better prepared for 2000 computer bug
EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 22, 1999

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi- bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1999/06/22/ international0058EDT0416.DTL

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

(06-22) 00:58 EDT NEW YORK (AP) -- Venezuela is consulting with psychiatrists on how to explain to the public what might happen with the Year 2000 computer bug. The Philippines wants to bring the bug to the dinner table -- as a conversation topic. And countries in sub- Saharan Africa are worried about finding enough experts to get rid of the bug.

John Koskinen, head of President Clinton's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, says he's delighted the world is finally focusing on Y2K problems and cooperating in trying to solve them.

Six months after the first global conference on the millennium bug, experts from over 170 countries meet today at the United Nations to assess progress in dealing with Year 2000 problems and preparations for coping with possible computer glitches.

``My sense is there has been a sea change in the preparedness of the world in the last six months,'' Koskinen told reporters Monday. ``Nobody is saying this isn't a problem. So what we now have, I think, is a race to the finish line.''

The Year 2000 problem -- also called Y2K and the millennium bug -- occurs because some computer programs, especially older ones, may fail when the date changes to 2000. Because they were written to recognize only the last two digits of a year, such programs could read the digits ``00'' as 1900 instead of 2000.

``Clearly, I think developing countries are going to have more problems than developed countries, but when the dust settles ... it wouldn't surprise me to find that we have more failures in developed countries because we have far more systems,'' Kostikon said.

U.S. companies and the government are probably spending $80 billion to $100 billion to cope with the millennium bug, he said.

At Monday's press conference, Y2K coordinators from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia provided a glimpse of some of the problems and challenges they face.

Mario Tagarinski said the 29 countries in East and Central Europe and Central Asia need independent assessments of their Y2K problems -- and help to fix them. One country, Yugoslavia, hasn't even been heard from on the millennium bug issue, he said.

Asked whether media reports that there would be a variety of failures and meltdowns in the region were fair, Tagarinski replied to laughter: ``Yeah, maybe.''

At the other end of the spectrum, Venezuela has invested $200 million to ensure oil is delivered on time and the country's Y2K oil expert, Ivan Crespo, said all critical components in the oil industry will be fixed by August.

But Venezuela's national coordinator, Hugo Castellanos, the government doesn't know how to communicate with the people about the Y2K problem.

``We don't know how to explain to the large population now what is going to happen, because we don't know what's going to happen,'' he said. ``We are talking to psychologists, psychiatrists in order to know how to reach the people.''

Amable Aguiluz of The Philippines, the East Asia and Pacific regional coordinator, said the media was crucial in raising awareness of the millennium bug.

``Our ultimate objective is to bring Y2K to the dinner table of every Filipino,'' he said.

But Aguiluz said he was concerned that some groups might take advantage of the computer problem. Some religious groups have already told members they would be willing to take care of their money to avoid Y2K problems, Aguiluz said.

Baba Mustafa Marong, the sub-Saharan Africa coordinator, said his region not only needs more computer experts but is concerned about small and medium enterprises, ``where you don't know the extent of their exposure to the Y2K bug.''

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), June 22, 1999.

For contrast...

United Nations
29 April 1999
Potential problems associated with the transition to the year 2000 < br>

http:// www.un.org/members/yr2000/ic_y2k.htm

Information circular(1)

To: Members of the staff
From: The Under-Secretary-General for Management
Subject: Potential problems associated with the transition to the year 2000

1. Most of you must have by now become aware of issues arising from the year 2000 (Y2K) date conversion problem of computers, or "millennium bug". Indeed, on 1 January 2000 some computers may be unable to process date information correctly, causing unpredictable results, including systems malfunctions. Since business processes in the United Nations interact with external systems, Y2K-induced potential failures may affect not only the internal business systems of the Organization -- over which we exercise control -- but also other essential external services on which we depend. Thus, failures in such areas as telecommunications, banking, utilities, security, transport and supplies may disrupt or delay critical elements of the work of the Organization.

2. Like many Governments and businesses around the world, the Organization, therefore, is addressing potential problems associated with the Y2K phenomenon. While much has been done during 1998 to minimize the impact of Y2K, particularly in terms of infrastructure and equipment, work still needs to be completed in validating, testing and preparing contingency plans for all critical activities that must continue to operate even if technology fails. The Y2K problem is in fact a complex business problem that will affect all aspects of the Organization's operation.

3. With less than 200 working days until the turn of the millennium, it is now recognized that not all Y2K problems will be identified and remedied before the deadline. Priority is therefore given to mission- critical operations of the Organization to ensure that they can be operational after 1 January 2000 irrespective of outside constraints.

4. Naturally, it is programme managers who continue to have the responsibility for the planning and effort necessary to ensure that their operations will not be compromised by or otherwise can adequately respond to problems associated with the Y2K problem.

5. In the meantime, while we are upgrading or replacing our non- compliant business applications and hardware and testing them, as part of our overall contingency planning we are also thinking of some common sense measures that will alleviate the burden of potential problems. These include the recommendation to programme managers to avoid, as far as possible, scheduling meetings and conferences during the first two weeks of January 2000. Staff members who are performing essential management, safety and security tasks or are key in running critical business applications, as well as those involved with the implementation of contingency plans in various offices and departments may be asked by their supervisors to work or to be reachable and ready to come to work during the roll-over period.

6. Over the next months and weeks, there will be a series of advisories and administrative notes dealing with the Organization's preparedness and addressing matters of concern to programme managers and the staff. The first of such advisories, a travel advisory prepared by the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator, is contained in annex I; some common sense advice on individual preparedness is contained in annex II.

Annex I

Travel advisory

(Circulated on 15 March 1999 by the United Nations Security Coordinator to all designated officials, security focal points and executive offices)

On 1 January 2000, some computer-based systems throughout the world may be unable to process information correctly, causing unpredictable results, including system malfunctions. The United Nations, many Governments and businesses are actively involved in addressing potential problems associated with the year 2000 (Y2K) phenomenon. Those who are taking corrective action will probably experience little or no disruption. However, others who have more limited resources or expertise, or who are not giving the problem sufficient attention, may experience significant difficulties. In countries that are not prepared, the Y2K problem could affect financial services, utilities, telecommunications, transportation and other essential services. It is difficult to forecast where the Y2K problem will surface. It is possible that some problems may even appear before 1 January 2000. Of particular concern are:

 Some transportation systems worldwide could be affected by computer problems. Although most of the major airlines are expected to be Y2K- compliant, United Nations staff travelling over the New Year holiday should be aware of the potential for disruption of transportation services and take that into account in making their overall travel arrangements.

 Financial institutions may experience difficulties. United Nations staff should not assume that credit cards, ATM machines international banking transactions etc. will operate normally at all locations throughout the world.

United Nations staff who have special medical requirements should not assume that all medical facilities and services will be available. Electrical, water and sanitation systems involving computers may experience malfunctions from the Y2K problem.

All United Nations staff who are planning to travel in late 1999 and early 2000 should be aware of the potential for problems and stay informed about Y2K preparedness in the location(s) to which they will be travelling. Staff members should ensure that if there is a security phase in effect at the location they are travelling to, appropriate clearance is sought and received from the designated official prior to their departure. In locations where no security phase is in effect, staff members may wish, nonetheless, to let the local designated official know of their presence at the duty station.

Staff members should be aware that, should Y2K-related problems occur at a particular duty station, the United Nations security management system may be hard pressed to provide assistance. Staff members must remember that they bear primary responsibility for their own security while travelling on vacation.

Additional information may be obtained from the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator or from your organization's security focal point.

Annex 2

Individual preparedness

Individually, what can you do to be prepared, you and your family? That depends of course on the duty station at which you serve. Experts generally recognize that planning for Y2K in many ways resembles planning for a known disaster like a storm of any kind. So, while this list is by no way exhaustive, it is recommended that:

 You should have supplies to last several days to a week for yourself and those that live with you. This includes having non- perishable food, water, prescription and non-prescription medications that you regularly use.

 It may also be wise to have some extra cash on hand, in case electronic transactions involving ATM cards, credit cards, and the like cannot be processed.

 If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, have also extra blankets, coats, hats and gloves to keep warm. You may also think of acquiring alternative heating devices.

 Have plenty of flashlights and extra batteries.

 If you plan to use a portable generator, make sure that you have enough fuel to run it and only connect what you want to power directly to the generator; but under no circumstances should you connect the generator to your home's electrical system.

 You may also consider having your car serviced prior to the end of 1999 and ensure that you keep it filled with fuel at all times after mid-December 1999.


1. Expiration date of the present information circular: 31 March 2000.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), June 22, 1999.

Havent read yet... newly linked on the UN Y2K meeting area.


http:// www.un.org/members/y2k/y2k2nd/icao.htm

June 10, 1999< br>


(Presented by the International Civil Aviation Organization)


The impact of the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem is considered to be a potential threat to the efficiency and regularity of international air transport operations. Since the last United Nations National Y2K Coordinators Meeting on 11 December 1998, significant progress has been made within the international civil aviation community. This paper reports on that progress and makes specific requests for action by the National Y2K Coordinators.

[Lots more...]

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), June 22, 1999.

``Clearly, I think developing countries are going to have more problems than developed countries, but when the dust settles ... it wouldn't surprise me to find that we have more failures in developed countries because we have far more systems,'' Kostikon said.

"Kostikon" is by far the best misspelling I have seen in the media. Fits his alien persona well. Any polly reponse to Kostikon's comment?

-- Steve (hartsman@ticon.net), June 22, 1999.

Ah, we have learned his True Name and can now conjure and bind him, should the need arise. I feel much better. 8-}]

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), June 22, 1999.

22 June 1999


(Delegates more optimistic "bug's" impact will be minimal) (790)
By Judy Aita
USIA United Nations Correspondent

http://www.usia.gov/cgi-bin/washfile/display.pl?p=/products/washfile/ latest&f=99062206.tlt&t=/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

United Nations -- As representatives of 173 countries reported on their progress toward thwarting the so-called Y2K computer bug, they became more optimistic that problems will be minimal when the clock strikes midnight December 31, 1999, according to the chairman of the international Y2K conference.

Ambassador Ahmad Kamal of Pakistan, chairman of the UN committee spearheading the international Y2K coordinating efforts, said June 22 that "action is underway everywhere, by and large according to schedule. Regional cooperation is going to grow much more in the coming months."

The United Nations Economic and Social Council Committee on Infomatics and the International Y2K Cooperation Center (IY2KCC) are sponsoring the three-day session "Global Y2K National Coordinators Conference" to share information on what is being done to fix computer dating system software around the world and coordinate plans for the next six months.

Kamal, who is chairman of the Infomatics Committee, reminded delegates that they were discussing the "last headache of the 20th century" in order to "ensure that it does not become the first problem of the 21st century."

It is, he said, "an enormous problem even though perhaps for the first time in history we have a problem that is foreseeable to the exact time to the microsecond when it will strike."

At a June 22 press conference, Kamal said that after hearing reports from the eight regions around the world, there is a "greater amount of optimism" that the problem is being tackled globally. He also pointed out that cross-border issues that need to be addressed have been identified and delegates are being briefed on public disclosure, litigation and claims.

"We are going to be entering the end phase," the ambassador said. "A lot of attention will now be paid to contingency planning. We know we will not be totally compliant. We also know disruptions are not likely to be major."

For example, Kamal said, Russia confirmed that the testing of its nuclear power plants will be completed by September. However, he noted that small island nations, dependent on imports for their food supplies, are still concerned about possible disruptions in the shipping industry.

Bruce McConnell, IY2KCC Director, said the center will be paying particular attention to testing industrial sectors over the next six months and "looking at what might have been overlooked." But nuclear weapon, financial, and aviation sectors have received so much emphasis over the past year "they know what needs to be done" and will not be the focus of major attention by the center.

The need to regularly inform the public and share information is so important that a special session has been scheduled to help coordinators, Kamal said. "Transparency helps" avoid public panic.

After the first UN conference on Y2K in December 1998, "we learned that many developing countries and economies in transition did not have the necessary expertise to handle the Y2K problem on their own. That led to establishment of the 'YES Corps' of dedicated volunteers who have given their time and effort to guide national Y2K coordinators in need," Kamal said.

In the last two months two dozen regional, subregional and sector meetings have taken place, he added.

McConnell said that the three goals of the international conference were to share information and coordinate plans on regional basis on Y2K plans for next six months; to commit to sharing details and verifiable information for country readiness, describing what systems have been fixed and for those not fixed what continuity plans are, and to begin planning timely responses where there are Y2K failures.

Carlos Primo Braga, director of the World Bank's Y2K program, said that there has been "a dramatic and positive change in status of awareness and level of effort" since the bank began dealing with the issue in developing countries.

"In January 1998 we were able to identify less than 10 developing countries that had initiated full fledged national programs to deal with the millennium bug... These numbers have now surpassed the 100 mark. Moreover, international coordination has also improved significantly not only through the hard work of national governments but also via the efforts of many international organizations," Braga said.

But Braga warned that this progress "should not be interpreted as an invitation to complacency.

"What we have also to understand is that the problem is too global, too costly, and too systemic to be totally solved on time in spite of all our efforts," he said.

"We need to continue with renewed vigor our work on remediation and testing while developing comprehensive contingency plans," Braga said.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), June 23, 1999.

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