In a letter to the President of the Security Council released today, Mr. Annan says that having been persuaded of the political will of countries and their commitment to the success and continued viability of the court, he has authorized a UN planning mission to travel next week to Freetown to discuss with the Government of Sierra Leone the practical arrangements for the establishment and operation of the court. The mission, scheduled for 7 to 18 January, will be led by the Office of Legal Affairs of the UN Secretariat and will include experts in all aspects of the operation of the court and representatives of the members of the Management Committee. According to the letter, the Council and the UN Secretariat have an understanding that setting up the Special Court for Sierra Leone would begin only after enough contributions were in hand to finance the establishment of the Court and 12 months of its operation, and that pledges had been received equal to the anticipated expenses of the following 24 months.As of 30 November, the UN Secretariat had received $14.8 million in contributions for the first year – a shortfall of $1.4 million – and pledges of $13 million and $7.4 million for the two subsequent years – approximately $19.6 million less than what will be needed to run the court. “Having authorized the commencement of the operation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, I wish nevertheless to reiterate the concerns expressed in my previous communications to the Council regarding the difficulties inherent in securing funds on the basis of voluntary contributions for an operation which engages the services of a great number of Sierra Leonean and international personnel,” Mr. Annan writes, adding that he reserved the right to ask the Council to consider funding any continued shortfall through assessed contributions or other means.The Secretary-General expects the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN Secretariat to sign an Agreement on the temporal jurisdiction of the tribunal at the end of the mission, thus establishing the legal framework for the establishment and operation of the Court.