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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-14

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 14 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 deplores Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.
  • Senior United Nations officials express distress at ongoing killings in Algeria.
  • United Nations Secretary-General recommends three-month extension of United Nations Observer Mission in Angola.
  • Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka named to head new Department for Disarmament Affairs.
  • Former United Nations Force Commander to testify before International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees tells NATO that up to 220,000 Bosnian minorities could return home in 1998.
  • Treaty to protect Antarctica enters into force.
  • Nine members elected to Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday deplored the statement of the Iraqi official spokesman and Iraq's subsequent failure to cooperate with a team of United Nations weapons inspectors.

In a statement read out by its President, Ambassador Alain Dejammet of France, the Council said that Iraq's failure to provide the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) with full, unconditional and immediate access to all sites was unacceptable and a clear violation of the relevant resolutions.

The Security Council reiterated its demand that Iraq cooperate fully, immediately and without conditions or restrictions with the Special Commission in accordance with the relevant resolutions governing Iraqi compliance.

The Council expressed its full support for the Special Commission overseeing the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its Executive Chairman, Ambassador Richard Butler. Ambassador Richard Butler is expected to leave New York on Thursday to continue discussions with Iraqi officials in order to fully implement the relevant resolutions and to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the operations of the Special Commission. He is planning to hold talks with Mr. Tariq Aziz on 19 and 20 January in Iraq.

The Security Council requested a full briefing by the Executive Chairman on these discussions as soon as possible after they have taken place so that it can decide on an appropriate response on the basis of the relevant resolutions.

Meanwhile, United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters that the inspection team led by Scott Ritter had again been unable to undertake its inspection mission on Wednesday. As happened on Tuesday, he added, the Iraqi officials did not show up to escort the team of forty-one persons from fourteen countries.

Several other teams did successfully go out on inspection missions, Mr. Eckhard said.

Senior United Nations officials have expressed their distress at the ongoing killings in Algeria, which according to reports, have in recent weeks left more than 1,000 people dead.

The continuing massacres in Algeria were the subject of an extended discussion during Wednesday's meeting at UN Headquarters in New York of the United Nations Senior Management Group which included Mary Robinson and Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioners for Human Rights and Refugees respectively, as well as Vladimir Petrovsky, the Head of the United Nations Office in Geneva who participated from Geneva by tele- conference.

The group expressed its support for the Secretary-General's statement on Monday, in which Mr. Kofi Annan deeply deplored the continuing loss of life and tragic situation in Algeria. He appealed to the consciences of the perpetrators to affirm the sanctity of life and cease their terrorist attacks. The Secretary-General also said that it was urgent and vital to protect innocent civilians, especially women and children in Algeria.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended the extension of the United Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) for three months.

In his latest report on MONUA, the Secretary-General says that despite extensive efforts by the Angolan parties to consolidate peace, with the assistance of the international community, certain important tasks remain to be completed. While significant progress has been achieved in the peace process, concludes the United Nations leader, persistent delays in the implementation of the 1994 Lusaka Protocol continue to be a source of serious concern.

The Secretary-General says that there is an urgent need for both parties, in particular the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) to display a greater sense of urgency in carrying out the Lusaka agreements and the relevant Security Council resolutions. Mr. Annan calls for greater efforts to complete without procrastination the key aspects of the peace process. Those aspects are full normalization of State administration throughout Angola, including Andulo and Bailundo; demobilization of UNITA troops; and the transformation UNITA Radio into a non-partisan facility.

In addition, UNITA has to take decisive steps to transform itself into a purely political party, declare that it has no more armed personnel or weapons under its control, and move its leadership to Luanda.

According to the report, the Angolan Government should foster a climate of confidence so that the peace process can continue in an atmosphere of trust and security.

The Secretary-General also welcomes the agreement reached by the Angolan parties on the new implementation timetable under which major progress should be achieved by the end of February 1998.

On the ongoing contacts between the two parties, Mr. Annan says that a meeting inside Angola of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi should be held in the near future as it could enhance mutual confidence and contribute significantly to the prospects for national reconciliation, reconstruction of the country, and movement towards democracy.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a Sri Lankan diplomat with years of experience in disarmament negotiations to head the new United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs.

Jayantha Dhanapala, who will serve at the rank of Under-Secretary- General, pledged to coordinate the efforts of the new department with other multilateral disarmament bodies. "We will continue to support the work of the Conference on Disarmament, as well as the Disarmament and International Security (First) Committee and the Disarmament Commission," he told reporters in New York.

"Nuclear disarmament and the question of weapons of mass destruction remains a priority," said Mr. Dhanapala, adding that other issues, such as conventional disarmament, must also be addressed.

Mr. Dhanapala has a long diplomatic career with special expertise in the area of disarmament. In 1995, he chaired the landmark Conference on the Review and Extension of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Prior to his new appointment, Mr. Dhanapala was Diplomat-in-Residence at the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies in the United States. He also served, in 1987, as the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

In recommending the establishment of the Department for Disarmament Affairs, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that "the end of the cold war has opened opportunities that should lead to more decisive efforts in the field of disarmament." He specified that nuclear disarmament must be pursued more vigorously, particularly by the nuclear-weapon States. "The establishment of the Department takes fully into account current needs and developments and, in particular, Member States' expressed interest in finding ways to address them."

The Secretary-General has waived the immunity of Major-General Rom‚o Dallaire, paving the way for him to appear as a witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. General Dallaire has been summoned to appear as a witness for the defence in the ongoing legal proceedings against Jean-Paul Akayesu, who is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.

As the former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), General Dallaire enjoys diplomatic immunity.

According to a letter from the United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, to the President of the Tribunal, Judge Laity Kama, the waiver is limited to General Dallaire's appearance as a witness before the Tribunal "and to matters of direct relevance to the charges made against the accused."

Akayesu, a former Mayor in Rwanda's Taba commune, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Addressing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that with a breakthrough on minority returns to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as many as 220,000 refugees could repatriate in 1998.

The return of 50,000 minority displaced persons or refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the first six months of this year would be "a credible objective," High Commissioner Sadako Ogata said.

While some 400,000 refugees and displaced persons have returned to their homes over the past two years, Ms. Ogata stressed that some 1.4 million people are still awaiting return to communities where they are in the minority. "For returns to occur on a larger scale in 1998, the deadlock on minority returns must be broken," she stressed.

Ms. Ogata said that the international community could not be blamed for the shortcomings of the Bosnian parties, stressing that the country's future lay with its own leaders and people. "Our task is to assist them when allowed and to ensure that basic principles are respected," she said.

Ms. Ogata expressed optimism that "significant changes are taking place at the grass-roots level," and called on the international community to support such developments.

The Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty entered into force on Wednesday following ratification by the 26 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties.

Reuben Olembo, Assistant Secretary-General and Officer-in-Charge of UNEP, based in Nairobi, said that the commitment of the Contracting Parties to the Madrid Protocol was very important as Antarctica played a critical role in the global environmental system. "Major processes of interaction between the atmosphere, ocean, ice and biota affect the entire global system through feedbacks, biochemical cycles, circulation patterns, transport of energy, and changes in ice mass balance," he said.

The Madrid Protocol is aimed at protecting Antarctica and its dependent and associated ecosystems as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. It will do so by regulating human activities in the region.

UNEP said it hoped that the further development of the Madrid Protocol would continue diligently and that the commitment of the Contracting Parties would be soon translated into reinforced actions to address the main environmental issues including the over-exploitation of fish stocks in the Southern Ocean.

The States parties to the Convention on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination met on Wednesday elect nine members to the Committee which monitors the Convention's implementation.

Addressing the meeting of States parties, Hans Corell, the Legal Counsel, said the Committee had further developed its early warning measures and urgent action procedures by which it endeavours to respond more effectively to imminent or actual situations of widespread racial discrimination or racially motivated violence.

The 18 expert members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination serve in their personal capacity for four-year terms. Of the nine experts voted on, two were new, while the other seven were re- elected. Gay McDougall of the United States and Peter Nobel of Sweden are new to the Committee. Re-elected by secret ballot were Rudiger Wolfrum of Germany, Agha Shahi of Pakistan, Michael Banton of the United Kingdom, Regis de Gouttes of France, Mahmound Aboul-Nasr of Egypt, Michael Sherifis of Cyprus and Carlos Lechuga Hevia of Cuba.

The other nine members of the Committee are Theodoor van Boven of the Netherlands, Ion Diaconu of Romania, Eduardo Ferrero Costa of Peru, Ivan Garvalov of Bulgaria, Youri Rechetov of the Russian Federation, Shanti Sadiq Ali of India, Luis Valencia Rodriguez of Ecuador, Mario Jorge Yutzis of Argentina and Zou Deci of China.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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