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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-13

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Tuesday, 13 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.


  • Security Council considers its response to Iraq's blocking of United Nations weapons inspections.
  • United Nations military observers will continue monitoring Prevlaka peninsula through 15 July.
  • Secretary-General pays tribute to Yasushi Akashi, who leaves United Nations after 40 years of service.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees "gravely concerned" about roundup of some 1,500 Sudanese in Addis Ababa.
  • New UN Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina says war criminals should be brought to trial this year.
  • UN officials and representatives of Ted Turner agree on initial arrangements for using $1 billion Turner Fund.
  • In letter to Security Council, Libya accuses United States of double standard on Lockerbie affair.

The Security Council held consultations on Tuesday after an inspection team of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) overseeing the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was unable to conduct its work.

United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York that the team's head, Scott Ritter of the United States, called off the inspection after the Government of Iraq failed to send its officials to escort the team, in accordance with standard practice.

"The fact still remains that it is the United Nations and UNSCOM that decide who participates and who does not and how the teams are put together, " Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters. "I would hope that Iraq will accept that premise and that we will be able to continue our work unimpeded."

"I do not think that Iraq is dictating," the country's Ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, told reporters. He said that his Government was protesting the fact that nationals of "the United States and Britain on those teams is affecting the impartiality of those teams because of the very well-known hostile American/British policy towards Iraq."

Several other inspection teams were able to go for regular inspection visits with Iraqi officials on Tuesday, "and there were no significant problems with these teams," Mr. Eckhard said.

Meanwhile, five new oil contracts were approved by United Nations overseers dealing with the "oil-for-food" programme for Iraq. The five contracts, which will total some 50 million barrels in total, were awarded to United States, French, Spanish and Russian companies.

The Security Council on Tuesday authorized the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), which consists of 28 military observers, to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula through 15 July.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1147 (1998), the Council reiterated its call on Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cease all violations of the demilitarization regime in the United Nations designated zones. The parties were also called on to cooperate fully with United Nations military observers and to ensure their safety and freedom of movement.

According to the Secretary-General's latest report on the matter, the long- standing violations are caused by the presence of approximately 30 Croatian Special Police and approximately six Yugoslav (Montenegrin) Border Police, located in the United Nations controlled zone. In addition, the waters of the United Nations controlled zone continue to be violated frequently by Croatian and Yugoslav fishing boats, as well as occasionally by Croatian police boats. "The most significant long- standing violation in the demilitarized zone is the continuing presence of Yugoslav Army troops in the north-western part," the Secretary-General notes.

By its resolution, the Security Council called on the parties to make progress in reducing tension and improving safety in the region. It urged them to abide by their mutual commitments and to fully implement the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The parties were urged to take concrete steps towards a negotiated resolution of the disputed issue of Prevlaka "in good faith and without delay."

"I should like to pay a warm tribute to my friend and colleague, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, as he completes a long and distinguished career with the United Nations," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday, Mr. Akashi's last day with the Organization after some four decades of service.

The Secretary-General said that Mr. Akashi had made an important contribution to the furtherance of international peace and security. "Both in the field and at Headquarters, he responded to each challenge with tremendous commitment," said Mr. Annan.

As Mr. Akashi departed for Japan with plans to embark on new endeavours, the Secretary-General wished him every success for the future.

Mr. Akashi first joined the Secretariat as a Political Affairs Officer in 1957, serving in various capacities with the United Nations and with the Government of Japan from 1974 to 1979. From 1979 to 1997, he headed the departments of public information, disarmament affairs and humanitarian affairs, and served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Cambodia and for the Former Yugoslavia. Mr. Akashi has published six books on the United Nations, as well as numerous articles on international issues.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is gravely concerned about the roundup of an estimated 1,500 Sudanese citizens in Addis Ababa late last week.

Spokeswoman Pam O'Toole told reporters in Geneva on Monday that in many cases, the Sudanese citizens were removed from their homes with no opportunity to collect their belongings, and families were split up. "UNHCR is particularly concerned that the group included around 400 recognized refugees and asylum seekers along with so-called 'illegals'."

Last Friday, the situation erupted into violence, when some Sudanese began attacking police with stones. Although details had not been confirmed, it appeared that several policemen were injured. "According to the Sudanese, the police responded by opening fire, killing one person and injuring another," said Ms. O'Toole, adding, "The authorities deny that any Sudanese were injured or killed and insist that they only fired in the air."

According to UNHCR, the Sudanese citizens were taken to a transit centre at Gulale, eight kilometres outside of Addis Ababa, where they were held in bad conditions. "The centre was crowded and there were no sanitation facilities," Ms. O'Toole said. She added that tensions were increased by the fact that northern and southern Sudanese were put together in overcrowded centres.

After the violence broke out, around 1,300 Sudanese were removed from the centre and transported by truck for one and a half days to a UNHCR-assisted camp at Shirkole, north-west of Addis Ababa. Only some 92 Sudanese remain at the Gulale transit centre.

"I have been able to see good steps forward in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- of course, also many steps backwards," Elisabeth Rehn, the new United Nations Special Representative for that country, told reporters on Tuesday as she prepared to take up her duties on 16 January. She was appointed to the post on 26 November 1997 after serving for two years as United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Situation of Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Ms. Rehn expressed optimism about her future tasks, stressing that the United Nations and other organizations must unite around the common goal of creating peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In order for peace to be sustained, Ms. Rehn emphasized, truth and justice must be realized through the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. "I hope that in my new position I can work on this so that this could be the year -- 1998 -- that all the indictees can be brought to The Hague, that people find that they can believe in justice and the truth can go through."

United Nations officials and the representatives of Ted Turner have agreed in principle on arrangements for the launching of the $1 billion Turner Fund in the first quarter of 1998. "While the lawyers are still dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's, we expect that final agreement will be reached shortly on the establishment of a foundation on the Turner side and a trust fund on the United Nations side to administer the money," Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters.

Tim Wirth, who had been selected to head the Turner Foundation, would be hosting a dinner on Tuesday evening at the Harvard club in New York for the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and other senior United Nations officials, as well as representatives of the Turner fund.

"The way we expect it to work is that the United Nations trust fund will solicit proposals from programmes and agencies of the United Nations system, evaluate them, sharpen their focus in consultation with the proposer of the idea, and then submit certain ones to the Turner side," said Mr. Eckhard. "If the Turner side approves, they will authorize the money to be transferred into the United Nations trust fund."

Libya has repeated its accusations against the United States of applying a "double standard" to the Lockerbie affair, which began when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988. Investigations in the United States and the United Kingdom led, in November 1991, to allegations that two Libyan nationals were responsible for the bombing. The Security Council subsequently imposed sanctions against Libya pending the surrender of those suspects for trial in Scotland.

Libya has agreed to the holding of a trial, but contends that the suspects would not receive a fair hearing in Scotland. It has therefore proposed that they be tried at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, or in a third, neutral country.

In a letter to the President of the Security Council released on Tuesday, the Ambassador of Libya cites recent examples of what he terms the "double standard" applied by the United States to the Lockerbie affair.

One case concerns a United States national accused of spying in the Russian Federation, was released on parole for the Christmas holidays, and failed to return at the agreed time to stand trial. Citing news reports, the Libyan Ambassador said a United States official as saying that forcing the individual to return to the Russian Federation for trial "would have been impossible" because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

In the second example, news reports are also cited to describe a case in which a suspect sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had been released on the grounds that there was no extradition treaty between Rwanda and the United States.

"It has become well known that there are no reciprocal agreements between Libya and the two countries [United States and United Kingdom] involved in this issue," Ambassador Omar Dorda states.

Following the Security Council's latest review of the sanctions against Libya in November 1997, United States representative Edward W. Gnehm Jr. told the General Assembly that Libya's support of an Assembly resolution on sanctions was not about free trade and the right of States to choose their own models of economic development. "It is," he said, "aimed at distracting attention from Libya's obstinate refusal to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions imposed because of Libya's involvement in two terrorist bombings of civilian aircraft, Pan Am 103 and UTA 772, and its support for international terrorism."

On that occasion, Mr. Gnehm stressed that Libya should not be encouraged to believe that anything less than full compliance with Security Council resolutions could end its confrontation with the international community.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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