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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-09

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, 9 January 1998


This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.

HEADLINES

  • Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia orders three co-accused to immediately surrender to the Tribunal.
  • Secretary-General's Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina says peace process is not irreversible.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan plans a visit to the Middle East next month.
  • Head of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization deplores huge spending on arms.
  • International Convention to suppress terrorist bombings to be opened for signature next Monday.
  • Indonesia assumes chairmanship of Group of 77 developing countries for 1998.


The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has ordered three co-accused of mass killings to immediately surrender to the Tribunal.

The three are Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic and Veselin Sljivancanin who were indicted on 7 November 1995 together with Slavko Dokmanovic. The trial of Dokmanovic, who has been in the custody of the Tribunal in the Hague since 27 June 1997, is due to begin on 19 January 1998.

In the indictment, the four are charged with responsibility for the mass killing at Ovcara near Vukovar, Croatia, of approximately 200 Croatian and other non-Serb persons who had been removed from Vukovar hospital on 20 November 1997.

In issuing its Order, the Tribunal says that if Slavko Dokmanovic is tried alone, it may be necessary to hold a subsequent trial for the three co- accused. In that event, the Tribunal points out, the Prosecutor may request the Trial Chamber to admit the transcripts of the testimony of the witnesses at the trial of Dokmanovic as evidence in their trial without the need for the witnesses to attend in person again.

The Tribunal adds that the Prosecutor may further request the Trial Chamber to find that by failing to appear voluntarily before the Tribunal at the earlier trial, the three would have waived their right to have those prosecution witnesses give testimony orally in the presence of the co- accused, and the right to examine those witnesses.

The Tribunal has issued two orders to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The first order requests FRY to serve the three co- accused with copies of the indictment, of the Rights of a suspect, of the Rights of an accused and a Notice calling on the three co-accused to surrender.

The second order is for publication of an advertisement of the Prosecutor's Notice in a newspaper which has wide circulation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Defence Counsel for Slavko Dokmanovic did not oppose the issuance of the orders but challenged the Prosecutor's argument on the admissibility as evidence in a subsequent trial of the transcripts of the testimonies given during Dokmanovic's trial.


Progress achieved in creating a single police force in Republika Sprska is not irreversible, according to the United Nations's Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At his press conference in Sarajevo on Friday, Ambassador Kai Eide noted that progress had been achieved in the creation of a single police force in the country. He said that in Mostar he was satisfied to see joint Croat and Bosniak police patrols and operations. Ambassador Eide said there was progress in other areas such as the Neretva Canton and centre of Bosnia Canton.

On the situation in Republika Srpska (RS), he said that the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF), which is working closely with the International Stabilization Force (SFOR), was training around 4,000 police officers. Last week, Ambassador Eide pointed out, a multi- ethnic police was established in Brcko. As a result of that development, contributions in the form of cars, computers and communication gear have started coming in.

The establishment of a new and democratic police force, "which is not a paramilitary force, and which is not a police force which discriminates on the basis of ethnic belonging", is important for justice, business, economic progress and prosperity in the country, Ambassador Eide said. "So we have achieved progress, but I must add that it is not irreversible."

He cited in particular the question of the police secret service which, he said, was not based on democratically elected institutions. Stressing that this situation could not continue, he said "we continue a situation in the RS where we are still talking about Plavsic-loyal police or Kranjisnik loyal police. It has to be police loyal to the law, period."

Ambassador Eide said that in 1998 the IPTF expected to have almost all 20, 000 police officers in the entire country involved in its training programme.

On the political situation, he said that the fundamental attitudes of the political leaders have not changed. "We have Serb leaders, we have Croat leaders, we have Bosniak leaders." Although some of these leaders do seat in joint institutions, he added, "Bosnia-Herzegovina does not have leaders."

Ambassador Eide stressed the importance of keeping SFOR and its successor force beyond June 1998 with the same number of officers. "There is not much room for reductions. The conditions have not yet changed sufficiently for that to happen", he said.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to visit the Middle East next month, a United Nations Spokesman announced on Friday.

Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said that the Secretary-General would visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, as well as areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

During his stay in the region, the Secretary-General would meet with the leaders to discuss issues relevant to the activities and objectives of the United Nations and its role in the region.

The Secretary-General would also visit United Nations peace-keeping missions and the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. While in Lebanon, it is envisaged that he will inaugurate the new headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).


The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has deplored huge military expenditures world-wide.

In a declaration issued in Paris on Friday, Federico Mayor called on the international community to reduce arms spending and invest in peace in preparation for the International Year for the Culture of Peace in the year 2000. He invited all countries, notably those exporting arms, to work with the United Nations system to establish a code of conduct to regulate arms sales.

Mr. Mayor expressed concern that in the first days of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, people's basic rights were diminished as a result of lack of basic resources and armed conflicts. UNESCO, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, would continue to disseminate the Human Rights Declaration, especially in schools and in all languages, Mr. Mayor added. Such dissemination would ensure that "all people can know their rights, because none can claim to defend what they do not know."

The UNESCO Director-General called for the close of the century to "mark the transition from the logic of force to the force of reason." Calling for the reduction of military spending which, he said, was over $800 billion per year, Mr. Mayor said the resources should be invested in peace just as they have been invested in war. He called, in particular, for the prevention of conventional arms traffic which, he said, was unregulated at the national and international level. These arms, he pointed out, were directed at countries which have shortcomings in human rights and were locked in conflict or burdened by tension and instability.

Mr. Mayor recalled UNESCO's principle that "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed". In accordance with that principle, he said, UNESCO and other bodies of the United Nations system had pledged to encourage concrete action to promote peace, the protection of human rights and the improvement of conflict-prevention mechanisms. All of this, he added, was reflected in the United Nations' Medium-Term Strategy for 1996 to 2001. Under that strategy, the Organization pledged to examine new conditions of security and promotion of innovations in conflict resolution which look at such factors as extreme poverty, social exclusion, racism, xenophobia, terrorism and the production of, traffic in and consumption of drugs.

He welcomed recent initiatives by certain governments, non- governmental organizations, and various Nobel prize winners to formulate a code of conduct for the regulation of arms.


The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings will be open for signature at United Nations Headquarters next Monday.

A United Nations Spokesman told the press on Friday that Sri Lanka will be the first country to sign the document in the Treaty Section of the United Nations Department of Legal Affairs. The United Kingdom and the United States are expected to sign on the same day.

The Convention will be open for signature at United Nations Headquarters until 31 December 1999 and will enter into force after the deposit of the twenty-second instrument of ratification.

The Convention contains twenty-four articles which address such elements as definition of offenses, obligations of State Parties, detention, prosecution and extradition.


The Chairman of the Group of 77 developing countries announced on Friday that Indonesia will formally take over the chairmanship of the group from the United Republic of Tanzania.

A communique of the Office of the Group's Chairman says that there will be a ceremonial meeting in New York on Monday to mark the formal turnover from Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya M. Kikwete, to Foreign Minister Ali Alatas of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Chairmanship of the Group for 1988 was assumed by Indonesian representative, Ambassador Makarim Bibisono at the beginning of the year.

The Group of 77 was created on 15 June 1964 at the end of the session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The work of the Group has been intimately linked with the United Nations in the promotion of the goals and objectives of the world body's Charter.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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