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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-05-27
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Wednesday, 27 May, 1998
This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.
The Security Council has renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Israel/Syria sector for six months.
In resolution 1169 (1998) unanimously adopted on Wednesday, the Council called upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 of 22 October 1973. That resolution was adopted after fighting broke out between Egypt and Syria on the one hand, and Israel on the other.
In resolution 1169, the Council also requested the Secretary-General to submit at the end of this period, a report on the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338 (1973).
Following the adoption of the resolution, the President of the Security Council Ambassador Njuguna Mahugu (Kenya) noted that the Secretary- General's report of 14 May 1998 had stated that despite the present quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continued to be potentially dangerous. In a statement on behalf of the Security Council, Ambassador Mahugu quoted the Secretary-General's report which said that the situation in that sector was likely to remain dangerous "unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached."
Ambassador Mahugu said that the statement of the Secretary-General reflected the view of the Council.
The President of the Security Council on Wednesday said that fighting between the Abkhaz militia and Georgian armed groups has subsided "significantly."
Following a briefing of the Council by the Secretariat on the recent tension in the Gali region of Abkhazia, Georgia, Ambassador Njuguna Mahugu (Kenya) recalled that fighting had erupted between the Abkhaz militia and Georgian armed groups on the night of 19 to 20 May.
On 22 of May, the Council President added, during an extraordinary session of the Coordinating Council, it was agreed that the confrontation would stop. However, he said, despite the agreement, fighting erupted on 23 May and escalated on 24 May.
On 25 May, an agreement on a ceasefire was reached following efforts by both sides and they appeared to be withdrawing from the area, Ambassador Mahugu said.
He said that the Council was considering a draft presidential statement to respond to this event and the overall situation in Abkhazia which attempted to separate from Georgia in 1992.
The President of the Security Council has said that a law on religious parties recently passed by the Tajik Parliament "runs contrary to the spirit of the General Agreement signed between the Government and the United Tajik Opposition."
The Council had met on Wednesday and received a briefing on the situation in Tajikistan. Speaking to the press after the briefing, Ambassador Njuguna Mahugu said that on 23 May the Tajik Parliament adopted the draft law on political parties and public associations which incorporated amendments to the original draft. The amended law, he said, "in effect bans the activities of political parties established on the basis of religious principles."
The Security Council has reaffirmed its primary role in the Afghan peace process, Ambassador Njuguna Mahugu (Kenya) said on Wednesday.
He said that, as the President of the Council, he had met on Tuesday with the representatives of the countries neighbouring Afghanistan "in order to convey the Council's concern over the situation in Afghanistan."
Ambassador Mahugu said the Council was also concerned about the Taliban decision to discontinue its participation in the Ulema peace process as well as the continued flow of arms into Afghanistan.
The importance of Ted Turner's historic billion-dollar gift in support of United Nations causes was discussed at the Secretary-General's Senior Management Group meeting on Wednesday.
"One member of the cabinet commented that to his knowledge this is the one source of money in the UN system that pulls the system together rather than drives it apart," United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York. He explained that this resulted from the fact that all parts of the UN system are being asked to work together in planning the distribution of the funds.
During the cabinet meeting, participants also discussed two important forthcoming United Nations events: the General Assembly special session on the world drug problem (New York, 8 to 10 June), and the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (Rome, 15 June to 17 July).
Chaired by the Secretary-General, the Senior Management Group meetings bring together the heads of United Nations entities to exchange information and coordinate policy. Those who are unable to attend in person participate through tele-conferencing. Secretary-General Kofi Annan initiated the forum as part of his ongoing effort to reform the United Nations.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is adopting a wide range of reforms in line with the recommendations of the Secretary- General and the General Assembly.
That is the picture that emerges from UNDP's 1997 Annual Report, released on Wednesday. "UNDP implemented organizational changes to make it a leaner, more efficient and more effective organization with stronger accountability, a culture of cost-consciousness and a sharper focus on country operations."
Targets have been set for improving the effectiveness of UNDP country offices, the report states. The Programme has also streamlined its headquarters, separating corporate and operational functions.
The main challenges for the future, according to the report, will be to anticipate and adjust to the evolving development cooperation environment. As part of this effort, UNDP will seek new strategic partnerships within the United Nations system as well as with international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and bilateral donors.
Gathering against the background of the recent East Asian financial crisis, experts from central banks, securities exchanges and ministries of finance from some 50 countries are meeting at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development headquarters in Geneva to consider macroeconomic policy challenges.
In his opening address to the three-day meeting, which began on Wednesday, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero pointed out that the very elements attracting foreign direct investment to developing countries have made it easy to withdraw capital. Recent experiences with highly mobile capital flows have highlighted the need to promote sound capital market development, including domestic stock and bond markets, in developing countries.
Stressing the positive contribution played by private capital flows in economic development, Mr. Ricupero stated that the real challenge was to determine the amount of external capital that domestic economies can absorb. He said that appropriate policy frameworks -- both national and international -- were needed to allow capital importing countries to maximize their benefits. Mr. Ricupero also called on recipient countries and foreign investors to establish a continuous dialogue so as to forestall panic over financial turmoil.
Future relations among the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries were discussed in a high-level dialogue between the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday.
The day-long meeting, chaired jointly by UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero and Jožo de Deus Pinheiro, the head of the Development Directorate- General of the Commission, focused on ways to promote the smooth integration of developing countries' into the world economy.
The developing countries had requested UNCTAD to provide them with technical assistance in preparation for the negotiations due to commence in September on a successor agreement to the Lom IV Convention, which expires in February 2000, and during the negotiations themselves. The European Commission announced that it was ready to co-finance an office for the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries secretariat in Geneva.
Mr. Ricupero and Mr. Pinheiro both agreed that special attention needed to be given to the least developed countries and to other small and vulnerable economies. They stressed the importance of further developing and defining the concept of vulnerability.
Commissioner Pinheiro outlined the European Union's approach to a successor agreement to Lom IV, involving linkages between economic and social cooperation, development assistance and political dialogue. Mr. Ricupero explained that UNCTAD was helping developing countries to build a "positive trade agenda," in preparation for future negotiations.
The food situation is gradually improving in most of the countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.
In a statement released in Tallinn at the FAO Regional Conference for Europe, the agency said food aid needs had fallen sharply in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). However, CIS countries still have vulnerable groups, including prisoners, disabled people, refugees and single-parent or large families who cannot afford to buy enough food. "Affordability rather than physical supply of food remains the main problem, " the statement said.
Although overall food supplies in the CIS are adequate to meet demand, there are large differences between and within countries, the FAO said. In Tajikistan, 16 per cent of the population still needs assistance to survive. Whereas countries such as Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine have exportable grain surpluses in 1997/98.
Seven CIS countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- with a total population of 53 million are classified as low-income food deficit countries. They have a per capita gross annual product of less than $1,465, or just $28 per week and an even lower disposable income.
Ministers and senior government officials from around 40 European countries are discussing food security during the five-day meeting in Tallinn which began on Monday.
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