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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-02-26
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Friday, 26 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 Security Council on Friday endorsed the technical liquidation of the UN mission in Angola, as recommended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council reiterated that the primary cause of the present situation in Angola was the failure of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi to comply with its obligations under the peace accords.
The Security Council affirmed that notwithstanding the expiration of the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) on 26 February 1999, the Status of Forces Agreement applicable to the mission remained in force until the departure of its final elements.
The Council also decided that the human rights component of MONUA would continue its current activities during the liquidation period. It called on all concerned to cooperate with the UN humanitarian assistance activities throughout Angola on the basis of principles of neutrality and non- discrimination and to guarantee the security and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel.
In a statement issued later Friday, the Secretary-General said that he very much regretted the impasse in the Angolan process and the resumption of conflict which had led to the termination of MONUA's mandate. However, with the steady worsening security situation, "it had become increasingly clear that the UN peacekeeping role in Angola had ceased to exist," he added. The Secretary-General stated that the UN would not abandon the Angolan people and was prepared to continue its humanitarian, human rights and development activities.
In an unanimous decision on Friday, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 15 November 1999.
The Security Council emphasized the need for the country's government to set the dates for the presidential elections as soon as possible. The Council said it intended to start the reduction of MINURCA personnel 15 days after the elections and to terminate the mission no later than 15 November 1999. It welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to discuss with the President of the Central African Republic plans for a progressive reduction of MINURCA's military component.
The Security Council further decided to review MINURCA's mandate every 45 days.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday he was "reasonably optimistic" about a breakthrough in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Speaking to the press, the Secretary-General said he had updated the Security Council on his ongoing efforts in the handing over of the two Libyan suspects for trial in the Netherlands. The Secretary-General delivered a letter last week to the Libyan Foreign Minister, Omar Muntasser, providing further clarifications and explanations in response to a letter from the Minister. The Secretary-General said he was now waiting for a reply from the Libyan authorities.
The President of the Security Council, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada, told journalists that during their consultations, Council members had not discussed a deadline for a response from Libya to the Secretary- General.
Ambassador Jeremy Goldsmith of the United Kingdom emphasized that his Government expected a response from Libya as soon as possible, "in any way within a month". The United States representative, Peter Burleigh, said it was time for Libyan authorities to respond to the Secretary-General and indicate when they were going to turn over the two suspects.
Replying to questions from journalists, the Ambassador for Libya Abuzed Dorda said his Government would study the Secretary-General's letter from a legal and political point of view and then reply to it. Libya, he said, expects guarantees that as soon as the two suspects reach the Netherlands for trial the whole issue will become a legal matter rather than a political one.
A report by the Guatemala Truth Commission casts a spotlight on the horrific violations inflicted on children during the country's 36-year- long conflict, says the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
According to the report, which was published on Thursday in Guatemala, children were killed, abducted, forcibly recruited as soldiers, illegally adopted and sexually abused. Disappearances of children, which included the stealing of infants for adoption, were widespread during the conflict.
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said the report "demonstrates that children were not only indirect victims of the conflict, but also direct targets of cruel violence." Ms. Bellamy said UNICEF would work with the Commission to enhance protection of child rights and contribute to national reconciliation.
The Truth Commission was set up as part of a United Nations- supervised peace accord that ended the war in 1996.
Rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo say they will observe a temporary ceasefire to allow emergency humanitarian assistance, particularly the vaccination of children.
These assurances were given to Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Chairman of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (CRD).
Mr. Otunnu had expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation of children in country's conflict zones. He had also expressed dismay over the continuing recruitment of children as soldiers. The Special Representative urged the Congolese authorities to adopt the minimum recruitment age of 18 years.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, is sending a mission to China to assess the type of technical assistance the country needs to strengthen its capacity to promote and protect human rights.
China has signed two international covenants -- on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights -- but has yet to ratify them.
The four-member assessment team, which will be in China from 8 to 22 March, is a practical follow-up to last September's China visit by Ms. Robinson. The team will examine the availability of national and provincial institutions in the field of human rights and the advisability of a national human rights commission. It will also look into the education system, including prospects for training military and police personnel.
UN High Commissioner for refugees, Sadako Ogata on Friday oversaw a convoy of 1,300 Liberian refugees who returned home from Guinea.
At the start of a visit to Guinea on Wednesday, Mrs. Ogata visited a trauma centre for refugee victims of mutilation by Sierra Leonean rebels and was said to be "shocked at such senseless violence".
During a meeting with Guinea's President, Lansana Conte, Mrs. Ogata was assured that Guinea would uphold its open door policy for refugees fleeing violence in Sierra Leone. Guinea hosts 350,000 Sierra Leoneans and 100,000 Liberian refugees.
Mrs. Ogata is also scheduled to visit Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire before returning to Geneva next Wednesday.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold its fifty-fourth session in Geneva starting 1 March to review steps by 11 countries to fight racial discrimination.
The 18-member Committee is the first body created by the United Nations to review actions by States in fulfilling their obligations under the 1969 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The 11 countries are among 150 States parties to the Convention. They are Austria, Costa Rica, Finland, Italy, Lesotho, Mongolia, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Syria and Kuwait. The session will end on 19 March.
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