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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:


Monday, 12 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.


  • Louise Frechette of Canada named as first United Nations Deputy Secretary- General.
  • Secretary-General says United Nations has not decided to halt inspections in Iraq.
  • Secretary-General calls on perpetrators to cease terrorist attacks in Algeria.
  • Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Canada, Russian Federation, France and United States sign anti-terrorism Convention.
  • Secretary-General says Group of 77 and United Nations must revive political will for international cooperation.
  • UNICEF calls for global support to new vaccine initiative which could save millions of children each year.
  • United Nations Development Programme launches $1.2 million project to protect civilians in Somalia.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has named Louise Frechette of Canada as the Organization's first Deputy Secretary- General.

The post of Deputy Secretary-General was created by the General Assembly last year on the recommendation of the Secretary-General as part of his programme for renewing the United Nations.

Ms. Frechette, who has been serving as Canada's Deputy Minister of National Defence since 1995, has a long diplomatic career which included service as Ambassador to the United Nations from 1992 to 1994.

Introducing Ms. Frechette at a press briefing, Mr. Annan tried to correct the impression that he specifically sought a woman for the job. "I was looking for the best person to take the job, and it happened to be a woman, " the Secretary-General stressed, adding that he was happy to have someone with qualifications of Ms. Frechette.

The first Deputy-Secretary-General told reporters that she had accepted the appointment without any hesitation because of her belief in the United Nations. She said that the greatest challenge facing the United Nations was "keep up with the times, to be ready for the problems of tomorrow, rather than to look backwards.

Ms. Frechette reminded the press that the resolution of the General Assembly creating the post makes a special reference to the areas of development and economic issues in general. She added that there was a great challenge for the United Nations in defining its future role on those issues.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday that the United Nations has not decided to stop any inspections of the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The Secretary-General was commenting on reports that Iraqi officials had complained that a team which arrived in Baghdad on Sunday led by Scott Ritter of the United States was dominated by nationals of that country.

Mr. Annan said that he hoped the Iraqi authorities would not do anything "precipitous" and would wait to raise the issue with Richard Butler, the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with overseeing the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Ambassador Butler is due in Baghdad on 19 January to discuss with the Iraqi authorities the question of access of UNSCOM inspectors to designated sites.

The Secretary-General described the Iraqi statement as the "first hiccup" since Iraq resumed cooperation with the United Nations inspectors in November.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Butler wrote to the President of the Security Council on Monday confirming reports of Iraq's decision to declare three sites which were to have been inspected as "sensitive".

Mr. Butler pointed out that the team lead by Mr. Ritter was comprised of 44 persons drawn from 17 countries. "The claims made in the statement by an Iraqi official spokesman seems to fail to take into account the facts with respect to the composition of the overall team of inspectors," writes Mr. Butler. He proposes that the Chief Inspector seek to proceed with his business on 13 January "and, if possible, until the planned programme of inspections has been completed."

In another development, United Nations officials began receiving new oil contracts for the third phase of the oil-for-food programme over the weekend. The programme allows Iraq, which is facing United Nations sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, to sell oil in order to purchase food and other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday deeply deplored the "continuing loss of life and tragic situation in Algeria". In a statement issued through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General appealed to the consciences of the perpetrators to affirm the sanctity of life and cease their terrorist attacks. "The Secretary-General considers it particularly urgent and vital that the innocent civilian population, especially women and children, be protected from the forces of violence in Algeria", his Spokesman added.
Sri Lanka has become the first country to sign the International Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. The United Kingdom, Canada, the Russian Federation, France and the United States also signed the anti- terrorism treaty on Monday.

The Convention will remain open for signature until the end of 1999, and will take effect 30 days after the receipt of the twenty-second instrument of ratification.

The General Assembly adopted the Convention, without a vote, on 15 December. In 24 articles, the Convention addresses such elements as definitions, scope, obligation of States parties, and cooperation to prevent actions that would be proscribed by the Convention, as well as the question of detention, extradition or prosecution.

The Convention specifies crimes which are extraditable under treaties which States parties sign among themselves, but it does not govern the military activities of States in armed conflict or in exercise of their official duties. It defines a terrorist bomber as a person who unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates a bomb, explosive, lethal or incendiary device in, into or against a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system or an infrastructure facility, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or the destruction of such a place resulting in major economic loss.

States parties to the Convention are obligated to establish their jurisdiction over terrorist bombings committed in their territories. They also have jurisdiction when the offences are committed against their nationals or facilities abroad.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the "Group of 77" developing countries to work with the United Nations to revive the political will for international cooperation and development.

"To meet this challenge, we must be prepared to proceed on two tracks: we must pursue our reform efforts further, while at the same time tackling substantive issues more forcefully in a way that breathes new life into the work of our Organization. This not only requires continued leadership and commitment; it requires a willingness to focus our energy on shaping an agenda for the future."

The Secretary-General made his comments in a statement to the ceremonial hand-over of the Group's leadership from the United Republic of Tanzania to Indonesia.

According to Mr. Annan, the recent turmoil in financial markets has demonstrated once again that the economies of all countries have become interlinked. He stressed that interdependence is a two-way process, so that what happens in developing countries affects the developed nations, and vice versa. "This demonstrates the need for effective multilateralism and an effective United Nations", he said.

Stressing that the Group of 77 and the United Nations "walk side-by- side", the Secretary-General noted that the two share a common understanding on the primacy of the promotion of development. "We share a common vision: to offer people economic opportunity and hope. Let us now share a common mission: to give our joint efforts impact and meaning."

The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is calling for global support for new vaccines which could save some eight million children each year.

A new group of vaccines, now in the final stages of development, could spare millions of lives annually, according to a new report released on Monday by the Children's Vaccine Initiative. The report recommends controlling the global incidence of measles, hepatitis B, Hib (which causes meningitis and pneumonia) and rubella by the year 2005. New and better vaccines should be introduced to reduce deaths due to infectious diseases. The report also calls for reducing the number of injected vaccines by developing immunization programmes that work through oral, nasal or other forms of delivery.

The annual cost of immunizing all children in 48 countries in sub- Saharan Africa is estimated at $25 million. "To continue to lose lives for the sake of such a relative pittance would be unconscionable", said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.

The Children's Vaccine Initiative is an international effort being carried out by several United Nations agencies -- the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme -- as well as the Rockefeller Foundation.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a $1.2 million project to protect civilians in Somalia. According to UNDP, the project will set the stage for an extensive three-year civilian protection programme involving demining, the reintegration of ex-militia into society, and strengthening law enforcement.

The programme is already being implemented in northwest Somalia. Its chief goal is to promote the country's social and economic recovery by re- establishing a secure and stable environment.

In the area of demining, UNDP plans to provide training and equipment so that Somalis can manage their own demining activities. To improve law enforcement, training will be provided in modern police methods, with emphasis on human rights and judicial procedures.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <> - email:

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