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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-01-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 22 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.


  • Secretary-General preparing recommendations to improve "oil-for- food" programme; if adopted, Iraq expected to accept.
  • China says that it is time for International Atomic Energy Agency to close nuclear file on Iraq.
  • United Nations Interim Force should remain in Lebanon through July, Secretary-General recommends.
  • Secretary-General recommends that United Nations observers remain in Georgia for six more months.
  • Prosecutor for International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia welcomes arrest of genocide suspect.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights meets Cambodian leaders in Phnom Penh.
  • Secretary-General's Special Envoy meets government official and opposition leader in Myanmar.
  • United Nations Secretary-General reiterates importance of payment of dues by United States.
  • UN Economic and Social Council plans special meeting to improve links with international financial institutions.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is preparing new recommendations for improving the oil-for-food programme for Iraq which the country's Government is expected to accept, according to a United Nations spokesman in Baghdad.

Under the oil-for-food programme, Iraq is authorized to sell $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days to pay for humanitarian relief for its population.

Eric Falt, Spokesman for the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that the Secretary-General's report, expected on 30 January, would contain recommendations on a broad range of specific issues, from contracting to delivery. Mr. Annan is also expected to reiterate his recommendation for an increase in the "food basket" to provide more protein for the Iraqi people.

Mr. Falt said that the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Dennis Halliday, had met regularly with government officials to discuss various aspects of the report. "United Nations officials have otherwise been working very closely with all the ministries at a technical level, and we are reasonably confident that the proposals of the Secretary-General would be officially accepted by the Government of Iraq," he said.

Asked if the Secretary-General would recommend an increase in the amount of oil that Iraq is authorized to sell, Mr. Falt stopped short of giving a specific figure. "We have all been working on this report on the basis of Security Council resolution 1143 (1997), which expressed the 'willingness' of the Council to accept an increase," he said, adding, "I cannot provide you here with a figure, and it is really up to Council members -- on the basis of the Secretary-General's recommendations -- to determine what kind of an increase should be adopted."

In another development, Mr. Falt said he was pleased to announce, "even though it will appear very late to all of us and to the Iraqi people", that the first shipment of medicines under the second phase of the oil-for-food programme had arrived in Iraq. A shipment of 100,000 Hepatitis B vaccines for infants had been delivered to the Ministry of Health and would be distributed shortly, he noted.

The Permanent Representative of China has said that it is time for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to close the nuclear file on Iraq.

Ambassador Qin Huasun spoke to the press on Thursday after the Security Council had been briefed by the leader of the IAEA Action Team on Iraq. He said that progress had been made during the IAEA team's last visit to the country, with Iraq responding to the inquiries made by the Agency. Saying that IAEA had no evidence to contradict Iraq's response, the Chinese Ambassador said that his country believed that the remaining issues in the nuclear field have been basically solved. "It is time to close the nuclear file," he said, adding that at this stage IAEA should focus on its monitoring and verification plan.

Emphasizing that Iraq should implement fully relevant resolutions of the Security Council, he said that "at the same time, the Council should also give timely and objective evaluation at the progress so far made."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is recommending that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) remain in the region through July.

In a new report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General describes a serious situation marked by increasing hostilities. Armed elements fired more than 2,517 mortar rounds, rockets and anti-tank missiles over the past six months -- some 1,000 more than the previous reporting period. UNIFIL also recorded more than 10,539 rounds of artillery, mortar, tank and missiles fired by the Israeli Defence Forces and its local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces.

Thirty-four civilians were killed in the past six months, as compared with nine in the previous period, according to the report, which provides details on each killing. Among those was the shelling of Sidon by the de facto forces which killed 8 civilians and wounded 40 others on 18 August.

In addition to attacks against civilians, the past six months saw increased attacks against UNIFIL itself. A total of 73 firings were carried out against UNIFIL positions and personnel, according to the report. Forty-one were perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Forces, 26 by armed elements, and 6 by unidentified sources.

During the night of 8 December, unknown persons detonated explosives in a United Nations position under construction, the report states. More recently, on 5 and 9 January, local elements of Hizbullah harassed United Nations personnel at gunpoint, and on 6 January, they fired at a United Nations vehicle. The Secretary-General expresses concern at the harassment of United Nations personnel.

UNIFIL continued to provide medical care, casualty evacuation, clothes, blankets, food and other forms of assistance to civilians. UNIFIL medical centres and mobile teams provided care to an average of 5,200 civilian patients per month, and the Mission also supported humanitarian assistance projects in a number of other areas.

In his report, the Secretary notes that the Force faces a serious funding shortfall, with some $111 million owed by Member States. "I appeal to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears," the Secretary-General writes.

Despite a tense security situation, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has been able to carry out its work and should remain in the country for another six months.

According to his latest report on the situation in Abkhazia, the Gali and Zugdidi security zones remain "unsettled and tense". Armed activities against the Abkhaz forces and establishments belonging to the Abkhaz authorities increased significantly in recent months. "For the first time since the beginning of activities by armed elements, important installations and public utility facilities, such as the railway link, power supply system, road bridges and public restaurants, were targeted," the Secretary-General writes, adding that the overall security situation in the mission area was also affected by the "rising number of criminal activities, including kidnapping and murder."

The security situation in the region continues to threaten aid workers and their property, according to the report. "A recent mine incident involving a humanitarian agency, violent attacks against aid workers and looting of agencies' property are particularly worrisome and suggest that the security situation may be deteriorating."

While stating that UNOMIG was able to carry out its task in relative safety, the Secretary-General cautions that "in UNOMIG as in many peacekeeping operations where local conditions are dangerous, risks to the observers' lives cannot be completely ruled out".

With the current UNOMIG mandate set to expire on 31 January, the Security Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General's recommendations shortly.

The Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has welcomed the detention by peacekeeping troops of a genocide suspect.

Judge Louise Arbour said on Thursday that the detention by members of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) of Goran Jelisic in Bijeljina was consistent with the authority given to the force to support the Court. "I commend the professionalism and the dedication of the soldiers and their officers."

Mr. Jelisic, who has been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Court in The Hague, is charged with one count of genocide, 18 counts of crime against humanity, 18 counts of grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, and 19 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. According to the indictment during a fight for the control of Brcko in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Goran Jelisic came to the town and systematically killed Muslim detainees. He is also accused of taking part in the expulsion of Croat and Muslim residents from their homes. He allegedly introduced himself as the "Serb Adolf" and said he had come to Brcko to kill Muslims, and often informed the Muslim detainees and others of the number of Muslims he had killed.

Goran Jelisic, who was indicted on 21 July 1995, is due to appear before the Tribunal on Monday to enter the plea of guilty or not guilty to each count he is charged with in the indictment.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

On the first day of her visit, Ms. Robinson met First Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ungt Hot and the Chairman of the National Assembly, Chea Sim.

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner had a working lunch with the heads of United Nations agencies in the country and later visited a museum where 16,000 people were interrogated, tortured and killed during the rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. She is expected to meet with the Second Prime Minister, Hun Sen, on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency has helped to voluntarily repatriate by air some 45 Cambodians from Bangkok, Thailand. The returnees will be escorted by staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who will be accompanied by an observer from the Royal Thai Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The repatriation follows the first UNHCR-assisted movement of 57 families from Bangkok on 17 December 1997. A third flight is scheduled for Friday.

United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Myanmar met with the opposition leader in the country on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary-General Alvaro de Soto, who arrived in Myanmar on Tuesday, met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy. Mr. de Soto also conferred with Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of the State Peace and Development Council.

On Wednesday, Mr. de Soto met with the Foreign Minister, U Ohn Gyaw. He is scheduled to meet Senior General Than Shwe on Friday.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reiterated the importance of the payment of dues by the United States.

Speaking at the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) Summit for Non-Governmental Organizations on Thursday, Mr. Annan said that if the United States "is to lead and play a constructive role in this Organization, it has to pay its way." The Secretary-General said that non-payment of dues by the United States offended friends and foes alike, and undermined the leadership role that the United States can play in this country and around the world.

Mr. Annan said that there was a new scale which, if not adjusted, would lead to Japan paying 20.75 per cent and the United States 20 per cent. "How do we explain it to the world and to ourselves that the most powerful, the greatest economy in the world, the country that is expected to provide leadership, is paying less than a much smaller economy and a much smaller country because of political reasons?"

The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for the contribution and importance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society in the reform proposals to strengthen the link between the United Nations and NGOs.

Mr. Annan recalled his proposal to hold a "Millennium Assembly" in the year 2000 where heads of state and government would gather "to reflect on the world we would want to see as we move into the next millennium". The Secretary-General added that parallel to the gathering of political leaders, he had also suggested another forum where non- governmental organizations and the public would also discuss how they saw the future.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council on Thursday decided to hold its first high-level special meeting to improve cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The meeting will be held on Saturday, 18 April, close to the semi- annual meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions. The decision marked a step by the Council in implementing a May 1996 General Assembly resolution aimed at revitalizing the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields.

By that resolution, the Assembly decided that in order for the Council to improve its links with the international financial and trade institutions, it should schedule a periodic high-level special meeting close to the semi- annual meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions. The idea was to enable the Council to benefit from the presence of ministers and other leaders in the field.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the Council elected Juan O. Somavia of Chile to serve as its President, a position he held previously in 1993. Ambassador Somavia stressed that the Council would spare no effort to carry out the Secretary-General's reform recommendations for making the Council more effective.

Chile's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 1990, Ambassador Somavia has served in various capacities on the Council, including Vice-President in 1991 and 1992. He is also known for having proposed, in May 1991, the convening of a summit on social development. After the General Assembly decided to convene such a summit, Mr. Somavia chaired its preparatory meetings. In March 1995, he was elected Chairman of the Main Committee of the World Summit for Social Development, which was held in Copenhagen.

Also on Thursday, the Council elected Ambassadors Paolo Fulci of Italy, Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh, Roble Olhaye of Djibouti and Alyaksandr Sychou of Belarus as Vice-Presidents.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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