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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-02-24

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 24 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.


  • Members of Security Council deplore continued hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • Security Council urges international community to pay close attention to deteriorating situation in Somalia.
  • Various constraints preventing full implementation of humanitarian programme in Iraq, says Secretary-General.
  • Secretary-General meets with US Senate and Congressional leaders in Washington.
  • UN to intensify efforts to recover remains of staff who died in plane crashes in Angola.
  • UN drug control board says research into possible medical uses of cannabis should not be used for legalization.
  • Former Rwandan Government official suspected of genocide moved to UN tribunal in Arusha.

Members of the United Nations Security Council have deplored the continuation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Following a briefing on the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea by Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Council members insisted that the parties respect resolution 1227 of 10 February and unconditionally agree to a ceasefire. They also recalled the resolution's provisions strongly urging all States to immediately halt the supply of arms and munitions to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Council President Robert Fowler of Canada told the press that Council members had reaffirmed that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Framework Agreement represented a viable and sound basis for the political settlement of the dispute.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday urged the international community to pay close attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia.

In a statement to the press, the President of the Council for February, Robert Fowler of Canada, said the Council had been briefed earlier on the "clearly appalling" situation in Somalia by the Under- Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast.

Ambassador Fowler said Council members urged the international community to provide the assistance so desperately needed by the civilian population. They also reiterated the call, under a 1992 Security Council resolution for all States to honour the arms embargo designed to prohibit the entry of arms into the volatile area.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that various constraints are preventing full implementation of the UN humanitarian programme in Iraq.

Iraq, which is under sanctions imposed after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, is allowed under the "oil-for-food" programme to export oil in order to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. To enhance Iraq's capacity to export oil, the country is also permitted to procure spare parts for its oil industry. The Secretary-General reports to the Council on the status of the programme every 180 days.

In his latest report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General identifies the most serious issue facing the implementation of the programme at present as the growing shortfall in revenues required to implement the approved plan for the distribution of humanitarian needs.

Regarding the procurement of oil spare parts, the Secretary-General welcomes the recent positive developments within the Security Council Committee in reviewing further applications that were placed on hold, and the considerable reduction in the number of applications placed on hold. He invites the committee to expedite the approval of the applications concerned. Nevertheless, citing a report by oil experts, the Secretary- General says that even with the expeditious approval of all applications, it is unlikely, that the approved spare parts and equipment requiring a long delivery period will have a significant impact on the export capacity of the Iraqi oil industry before March 2000.

The Secretary-General welcomes the establishment by the Security Council of the panels on Iraq, including the Panel on Humanitarian Issues, "to assess the current humanitarian situation in Iraq and make recommendations to the Council regarding measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq."

In meetings with US senate and congressional leaders on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan discussed trouble spots around the world, as well as the future of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General began the second day of his official visit to Washington D.C., with a breakfast meeting with Senator John Warner, who is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. They discussed the future of NATO and of the United Nations, as well as Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later, the Secretary-General met with new Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, for discussions on Kosovo, Iraq and peacekeeping. They also spoke about the congressional budget process and the obstacles to US payments of its UN arrears.

During a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the Secretary- General thanked him for his last-ditch effort on United Nations funding last year and Senator Daschle assured the UN leader of his support. The two men explored ways Senator Daschle could help on the funding issue and also exchanged views on a range of international issues including Iraq, Kosovo and the future role of the UN.

Other activities for the Secretary-General included a luncheon with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and meetings with National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. Mr. Annan also met with an Australian delegation headed by Ashton Calvert, the Secretary of the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, for discussions on East Timor.

In the evening, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Annan attended a White House State Dinner for President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan vowed on Wednesday that the UN would intensify its efforts to re-visit the sites of UN plane crashes in Angola to recover the remains of UN staff members who died there.

In his message to the memorial service for the victims of the plane crashes on 26 December, 1998, and 2 January, 1999, Mr. Annan said that his outrage at these events, his sympathy with the victims' loved ones, and his determination to ensure that the sacrifices of the UN staff members were not in vain, had not subsided.

In his message, delivered in Luanda, Angola, by his Special Representative, Issa Diallo, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the UN staff members who died in the plane crashes. He said that they were "all courageous men and women who fought on the frontline for peace," to bring help to the needy, comfort to the bereaved and peace to the Angolan people who had suffered for too long from the ravages of war.

Mr. Annan recalled that in another plane crash last year, the United Nations had also lost his former Special Representative, Maitre Alioune Blondin Beye, five staff members of the United Nations Mission of Observer in Angola (MONUA) and two crew members.

The Secretary-General also recalled the "extraordinary" accomplishments of the UN staff members in Angola: ending a terrible war which had taken the lives of hundreds of thousands; achieving the Lusaka Protocol; establishing a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation; and creating a National Assembly. He said that these successes ought to serve as a foundation for a genuinely lasting peace. "It is deeply tragic and troubling, therefore, that Angola's leaders now seem prepared to allow these hard-won achievements to unravel."

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says research into the possible medical uses of cannabis should not be used to justify legalization of all cannabis use.

In its annual report released on Tuesday, the Board, which monitors United Nations drug control treaties, said it welcomed and encouraged serious, scientific research on the alleged medical properties of cannabis, but warned against misusing the research efforts for "blanket" legalization purposes.

Board President Dr. Hamid Ghodse said that should the medical usefulness of cannabis be established, it would be a drug no different from most narcotic and psychotropic substances. Cannabis prescribed for medical purposes, would also be subject to licensing and other control measures under international treaties. He called for an end to the "increasingly politicized battle over cannabis" since it has had a negative effect on attitudes towards drug use, particularly among young people.

The Board, which also monitors the availability of drugs for proper medical purposes, noted the low availability of morphine, codeine and other opioid- based pain killers in developing countries. Whereas certain psychotropic substances were over-prescribed in some countries, Europeans were the world's top users of stress-reducing drugs and Americans -- North and South -- record consumers of performance enhancing drugs or stimulants, the report noted.

The International Narcotics Control Board supervises the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Convention on against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

A former senior Rwandan Government official suspected of genocide- related crimes has been transferred to the detention facilities of the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, according to a statement released by the tribunal.

Casimir Bizimungu, a medical doctor who at different times served as Foreign Minister and Minister of Health in Rwanda, was arrested on 11 February in Nairobi, on the basis of a Rule 40bis order issued by Judge William Sekule of the Tribunal's Trial Chamber II. Under this rule, the Prosecutor can request a State to arrest a suspect and place him in custody if a judge of the Tribunal is satisfied that preliminary material points to the accused as having possibly committed a crime within the Tribunal's jurisdiction. Such an order may also be issued where the judge considers provisional detention necessary to prevent the escape of the suspect or helpful to the conduct of the investigations. Mr. Bizimungu is yet to be formally charged.

Mr. Bizimungu was Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of the late Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. At the time of the genocide in that country in 1994, he was Minister of Health in the Interim Government of Jean Kambanda.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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