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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-15

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 15 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.


  • United Nations completes peaceful re-integration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium into Croatia.
  • Head of United Nations weapons inspectors set to leave for Iraq.
  • Iraq will reissue "full, final and complete declaration" on nuclear weapons, IAEA reports.
  • United Nations food agency warns that potentially lethal livestock pest threatens Iraq and its neighbours.
  • United Nations refugee agency prepares to help over 100,000 people return to Western Sahara for referendum.
  • United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library issues guide to Security Council resolutions adopted during first 50 years.

The United Nations Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) has completed the peaceful reintegration of the region back to Croatia on the basis of mutual confidence, safety and security for all of its inhabitants.

"The mission's success has created a positive precedent for peace throughout the former Yugoslavia and has provided the necessary stability for the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to normalize their relations," said Bernard Miyet, United Nations Under- Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Addressing a ceremony to mark the end of the UNTAES mandate, Mr. Miyet said that the mission had succeeded by allowing time for the population to build trust in the authority of the Croatian Government.

"The end of the mandate is only going to be a brief stop on the longer journey that the people of Croatia are embarked upon, which is reconstructing the lives and communities throughout the country that were adversely affected by the war," said the Transitional Administrator, William Walker. "An essential aspect of this rebuilding process is the need for people to come to terms with the experiences of the past, and to learn from them."

Mr. Walker said that the most important lesson to be gleaned from the experiences of Eastern Slavonia was that "the pursuit of ethnic divisions and separateness leads only to human suffering, economic devastation, and ostracism from the world community." He expressed hope that the Croatian people could embark on the path of reconciliation.

"While we've seen impressive progress over the past two years, we at UNTAES believe that the journey is far from over. Much more needs to be done. The wounds of war are just beginning to heal," Mr. Walker said. He stressed that economic recovery as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law were essential. "I am leaving the region convinced that the overwhelming majority of Croatian citizens, regardless of their ethnic background, crave a return to normalcy. I am equally convinced that they will repudiate any who advocate policies or practices causing a return to the violence and chaos of the recent past."

Among its tasks, UNTAES was mandated to supervise and facilitate the demilitarization of the region; monitor the safe return of refugees; establish and train a temporary police force; monitor the treatment of prisoners; organize local elections; monitor the region's international borders; restore the functioning of public services; and monitor respect for human rights.

In another development, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Souren Saraydarian of Syria as his representative and head of the United Nations Liaison Office in Zagreb. He will also head a support group of 180 police monitors who will continue monitoring the Croatian police in the Danube region for the next nine months.

The head of the United Nations inspectors overseeing the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is scheduled to leave New York for Iraq on Thursday.

According to a United Nations Spokesman, the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), Ambassador Richard Butler, will stop over in Paris where he will confer with the French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine and other officials concerning his visit to Iraq.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that Ambassador Butler was scheduled to arrive in Bahrain on Saturday and to travel to Baghdad on the morning of 19 January. He would meet with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on 19 and 20 January to discuss policy issues, in particular the question of access of United Nations inspectors to certain sites. Ambassador Butler is expected to leave Baghdad on 21 January and return to New York on 22 January.

The visit of Ambassador Butler comes amidst the latest controversy caused by Iraq's decision to deny access to weapons inspectors led by an American, Scott Ritter. Iraq complained that the team, which went out on mission on Monday, was dominated by American and British nationals.

Ambassador Butler on Wednesday gave the Security Council a breakdown of the inspectors which showed that the team consisted of 44 persons. 28 of those persons were classified as inspectors. Of the 28, ten were American, five British, three French, two Austrian, and the remaining eight were from Bosnia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Security Council said on Wednesday that the decision of Iraq was unacceptable and a clear violation of United Nations resolutions.

Meanwhile, the inspection team led by Mr. Ritter did not try to go out on mission on Thursday and was awaiting further instructions from Ambassador Butler, the United Nations Spokesman said.

Other teams dealing with chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, as well as missiles "did conduct inspections without any hitches", Spokesman Eckhard told reporters.

Iraq will reissue its "full, final and complete declaration" on nuclear weapons following an agreement reached between the country's Government and representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iraq agreed to reissue the document incorporating the additions and revisions resulting from discussions held in February, May and July 1997, according to a new IAEA report sent to the Secretary-General for transmission to the Security Council. The report covers the visit of a team of six technical specialists to Baghdad from 19 to 21 December.

The report states that Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, has indicated that Iraq would have no objection to the use of fixed-wing aircraft for technical functions such as aerial radiation surveys.

The team, led by Garry Dillon, who heads the IAEA Iraq Team, went to Baghdad to seek clarification of a number of matters so as to provide further assurance that the technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme is comprehensive. It also worked to tailor IAEA ongoing monitoring and verification activities appropriately.

Among the matters discussed were Iraq's post-war procurement procedures; Iraq's production of a document summarizing the technical achievement of their clandestine nuclear programme; offers of external assistance to Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme; the motivation behind the actions attributed to the late Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel in retaining and concealing documentation and material from Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme; and the existence of the so-called "Governmental Committee," whose declared task included "to reduce the effect of NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] violation to the minimum."

The IAEA is currently focusing most of its resources on the implementation and strengthening of its ongoing monitoring and verification plan. Nonetheless, it will continue to exercise its right to investigate any aspect of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme and will give high priority to the investigation of any indication of direct acquisition of weapon- usable nuclear material or nuclear weapon-related technology.

The United Nations food agency has warned of an outbreak of the potentially lethal Old World Screwworm epidemic livestock pest in Iraq and neighbouring countries.

The Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday that the pest had reached "epidemic proportions" in Iraq and was threatening to spread to neighbouring countries unless urgent control measures were implemented.

According to FAO, some 50,000 cases of Old World Screwworm were recorded in 12 out of 18 Iraqi governorates in December, compared to 31,000 in the previous 15 months. The agency said that samples had been found in a diseased animal in Kuwait and the pest had been detected in Iran.

Old World Screwworm which generally affect livestock, particularly sheep and cattle, can also spread to humans. A small number of cases affecting people have been reported, FAO said.

The worm is transmitted by flies which lay their eggs close to skin wounds. When the larvae hatch they penetrate the flesh and feed on living tissue causing the mycotic disease which, if not treated, can lead to other infections and eventually death, according to FAO.

In efforts to deal with the epidemic, FAO and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development jointly organized a workshop in Damascus in December. In that workshop, representatives of countries affected by the outbreak underlined the urgent need to control legal and illegal cross- border movements of infested animals. They also recommended a two-year plan of action to tackle the pest using chemical insecticides at a cost of some $7.3 million. FAO said that discussions were under way with financial institutions to raise the necessary funding for the action plan.

The countries which have been identified as being seriously threatened by the pest are Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The danger is estimated to be lower in Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The United Nations refugee agency is gearing up to help up to 120,000 people return to Western Sahara for the referendum scheduled to take place there on 7 December.

The purpose of the United Nations-organized referendum will be to allow the Saharawi people to decide between independence for the territory or integration with Morocco.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be working to help refugees who have been identified as eligible to participate in the referendum to voluntarily return to the territory with their family members in time to vote.

UNHCR will focus on registering those willing to return among identified voters in the refugee camps in Algeria, as well as Saharawis living in Mauritania and elsewhere. It is expected to establish five reception centres in Western Sahara for the returnees.

Voluntary repatriation should begin in August, according to UNHCR. The eligible voters and their immediate family members will be transported by road from the refugee camps to a transit centre near Tindouf, Algeria. From there, most will be flown to the reception centres in Western Sahara.

An estimated 105,000 persons will return under UNHCR auspices from Algeria, 10,000 from Mauritania, and 5,000 from other areas.

The return movements are to be completed by mid-November, in time for the scheduled three-week referendum campaign leading up to the 7 December voting. After the referendum, UNHCR plans to undertake its standard post- return activities, concentrating on rehabilitation measures and on monitoring the returnees.

In order to finance its operation, which is expected to cost $50 million, UNHCR will launch a special appeal later this month.

The United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library has issued a guide to resolutions adopted by the Security Council during its first 50 years.

Entitled Index to Resolutions of the Security Council, 1946-1996, the new publication consists of two parts -- a subject index as well as a checklist arranged by document symbol which provides a full bibliographic citation, language and content notes.

The full text of Security Council resolutions from 1974 onwards may be found on the United Nations website ( It can also be found on UNBIS Plus on CD-ROM, a bibliographic resource of the Dag Hammarskjold Library.

The Library also publishes information on the Council's documents and actions in its annual Index to Proceedings of the Security Council.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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