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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-02-09
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 9 February, 1999
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 UN General Assembly on Tuesday called for increased efforts to bring the Middle East peace process back on track, despite the actual deterioration as a result of Israeli noncompliance with existing agreements.
The call came in a resolution which was adopted after an extended debate during the resumed tenth emergency special session on illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory. The vote was 115 in favour, to 2 against (Israel and United States) with 5 abstentions (Australia, Bahamas, Cameroon, Romania and Swaziland).
The Assembly expressed its grave concern at the Knesset's adoption of the law of 26 January and the legislation of 27 January and reaffirmed that all legislative and administrative measures and actions by Israel which have altered the character, legal status, and demographic composition of occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories were null and void.
The Assembly reiterated earlier demands that Israel accept the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. It recommended the convening of a conference on 15 July in Geneva of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on measures to enforce it in the occupied territories.
In adopting the resolution, the Assembly again demanded an immediate end to all settlement activities, including the construction of a settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of occupied East Jerusalem.
Members of the Security Council on Tuesday "unequivocally" demanded that Ethiopia and Eritrea immediately cease fighting in line with the Council's previous resolutions.
In a press statement read out by Council President, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, Council members expressed their dismay over the fighting between the two countries. Ambassador Fowler said that members of the Council were especially concerned about the effects of this fighting on the civilian populations of both countries.
The members of the Council were "very actively" considering the situation and ways in which these two countries could be persuaded to end hostilities, Ambassador Fowler said. They strongly supported all ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve this dispute, Ambassador Fowler added.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun is expected to brief the Council on Wednesday on the situation in the Horn of Africa.
Paying tribute to the late King Hussein of Jordan, the Security Council on Tuesday said that his presence both in words and deeds would be missed, but not forgotten, as the Council continued to work for peace and security in the Middle East.
In a statement of condolences read out by its President, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, the Council said that it was with deep sorrow that its members learned of the death on 7 February of King Hussein. The Security Council offered its condolences and sympathy to the people of Jordan, to Queen Noor, to King Abdullah, and to the rest of the royal family of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The Security Council said that Jordan, and the entire region was bereft of one of its greatest leaders. "We have all lost a steadfast warrior for peace," Ambassador Fowler said, adding that the late King's prodigious and comprehensive understanding of his region and his willingness to take risks for peace helped to secure a brighter future for his people and hope for his entire region.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday too much was at stake for the Middle East peace process to falter yet again.
In an address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Secretary-General appealed for the parties to summon again the will and the wisdom to move ahead without delay in accordance with the agreements already signed. Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast delivered the address on Mr. Annan's behalf at the opening of the Committee's 1999 session.
It was crucial, the Secretary-General said, that the parties remain committed to the achievement of a just and lasting peace based on relevant Security Council resolutions. "We must not lose sight of the gains the peace process has brought so far," he continued. Success in the Israeli- Palestinian negotiations could lead to progress on the other tracks. "Real, tangible progress is the best antidote to violence and the best answer to the forces of disruption, destruction and doubt," said the Secretary- General.
"When 600,000 women still die every year due to pregnancy-related causes, this is no time to cut back on our commitment to family planning," United States First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton declared on Tuesday at a global meeting on population and development.
Ms. Clinton was addressing the Hague Forum, a five-day review of progress in carrying out the action plan agreed to at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.
At the ICPD, Ms. Clinton said, "the world agreed that smaller families and slower population growth are created by choice and opportunities, not coercion and controls". International experience since the 1994 conference has confirmed the validity of this approach, she stated.
Ms. Clinton noted that in the United States' proposed budget for fiscal year 2000, the President has proposed a $25 million voluntary contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She expressed hope that the United States Congress would support the request. "Restoration of U.S. funding for UNFPA would send a strong signal that the United States continues to support the ICPD Programme of Action," she added.
At the second day of the Hague Forum on Tuesday, delegates reported that reproductive health services were being improved around the world, but more resources were needed to expand access to services, especially for the poor. The Forum also heard statements from representatives of a number of international organizations, and continued to discuss key issues in the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that occasional fire continued to prevent people from returning to their homes in the Kosovo. According to UNHCR, firing by security forces at Kisela Banja, west of Pristina, over the weekend forced about a dozen villagers to flee their homes.
The UN agency said that as of yesterday, there were still no significant returns to Racak in Stimlje, where 45 people had been massacred during a government offensive last month. On Monday a UNHCR team which delivered bread and canned food to the eight old men at Racak, the only people who remained there.
The United Nations on Tuesday appealed for $198.4 million for emergency humanitarian assistance to more than four million people affected by war and drought in Sudan.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the appeal, launched in meetings in Khartoum, Sudan, and Nairobi, Kenya, would fund Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). Operation Lifeline Sudan is a joint effort of United Nations agencies and non- governmental organizations assisting the affected civilians in southern Sudan, the transitional zone and camps and settlements for internally displaced persons around Khartoum. OLS, which closely collaborates with all the parties to the conflict in Sudan, has been working in the country for ten years.
OCHA said that although the famine in Bahr El Ghazal was now under control, millions of people in Sudan continued to rely on emergency assistance in order to survive. According to OCHA, recovery was fragile and a recurrence of famine in that region and other areas could not be ruled out. The highest priority for UN agencies in areas not covered by OLS would be to provide food aid to vulnerable groups while also responding to possible flood, drought or other emergencies, said OCHA.
During the next twelve months, thanks to the generous efforts of the international community and the ceasefire in Bahr El Ghazal, humanitarian conditions in some of the areas worst hit by last year's famine were expected to slowly stabilize, said OCHA. It warned, however, that renewed hostilities or natural disaster, resulting in massive displacement of people and crop failure could cause a recurrence of the famine.
As governments come under pressure to keep public spending down, the UN Commission for Social Development on Tuesday began a review of worldwide efforts to improve access to basic social services.
The Commission will examine progress since the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development when 117 heads of State and Government made 10 commitments, including one to make social services available to all. The Commission will also begin the preparatory process for next year's special General Assembly session, "Copenhagen+5".
The 46-member Commission will review reports citing some gains, particularly in extending basic education and literacy, but also setbacks and slow progress. It will also discuss issues pertaining to ageing and the outcome of the World Conference on Ministers Responsible for Youth held in Lisbon last year.
There will be several panel events, including one "Caring Communities in the 21st Century", and an international video conference on ageing. Frederico Mayor, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will address the Commission.
A professional, multi-ethnic police force in Bosnia could make people feel safer and encourage them to return home, the head of the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters, IPTF Commissioner Richard Monk said more than 2,000 international police officers from 43 countries were helping to train, equip and monitor local police in Republika Srpska and the Federation.
Civilian police specialists with criminal investigative and command skills were working alongside senior local officers, Mr. Monk said. The Ministers of the Interior of both Republika Srpska and the Federation had also agreed to allow IPTF monitors in their offices to explain democratic policing standards and how to achieve progress.
Although efforts to mix the ethnicity of police was always strongly resisted by both sides, the IPTF had been able to make the case that a professional police force must represent the communities it polices, Commissioner Monk said. However, a lack of political will was preventing implementation of a truly multi-ethnic police, he added.
Commissioner Monk said a great deal was being learned about the value of civilian policing in UN peacekeeping missions and systems initiated by IPTF could point the way to integrating police components into future operations.
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