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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-06

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 6 February 1997

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.


  • UN Secretary-General says safeguarding environment is cross-cutting United Nations activity.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees condemns kidnapping of four of its staff in Tajikistan.
  • Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders express determination to help promote overall settlement to ensure peace and harmony.
  • UN Secretary-General announces appointment of senior officials.
  • International Court of Justice elects new President.
  • Monitoring of outflow of oil from Iraq has been running smoothly, Coordinator of Multinational Interception Force says.
  • Dag Hammarskjold Library announces new and expanded training programme.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says safeguarding the environment was a cross-cutting United Nations activity and a guiding principle of work in support of sustainable development.

In a message to the high-level segment of the nineteenth session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Wednesday, Mr. Annan told delegates that the UNEP Governing Council had demanding tasks before it, including one of formulating contributions to the upcoming special session of the General Assembly, which would review and appraise progress in carrying out the commitments made at the landmark United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, nearly five years ago.

"At the 'Earth Summit Plus Five', the special session to be held at United Nations Headquarters, we will return to many of the fundamental questions addressed at Rio de Janeiro", he said.

He told delegates that sufficient attention should be paid to strengthening UNEP's ability to help countries build their capacities for environmental assessment and management.

Meanwhile, the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia told delegates at the high-level segment of the Governing Council that the special session was an opportunity for the United Nations to identify itself clearly as the organisation which could not only enhance political commitment, but could translate them in tangible terms.

"UNEP should use this opportunity to strengthen itself and to develop a stronger identity that fully contributes to the process, and not as a marginalised component to the process," he said.

Outlining his views on the special session, the achievements and the lack thereof since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, Ambassador Razali said the political reaffirmation of the documents and processes of Rio alone would not achieve much.

"The special session must transform the conceptual analysis and political commitment of the past five years into action and working programmes that make a tangible difference", he said. Ambassador Razali cautioned against an over-concentration on new and emerging issues, when many goals already agreed to remained unmet.

He called on delegates to urge governments to strengthen the environmental dimension of their macroeconomic policies, by securing the participation of international financial institutions in their attention to their macroeconomic policies and advice.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has condemned the kidnapping of four UNHCR staff members, Thursday in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The latest spate of kidnapping in Tajikistan began on Tuesday when armed men seized five observers from the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT).

On Wednesday, two International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates and five journalists were kidnapped. No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The abducted UNHCR workers included one international staff from Nigeria, a local security guard and two drivers, the agency said.

In a statement issued in Geneva, High Commissioner Sadako Ogata urged the government of Tajikistan to do its utmost in securing the immediate release of the hostages. The UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan and the International Committee of the Red Cross have issued similar appeals.

"We deplore the kidnapping in the strongest possible terms," said Ms. Ogata. "This abduction of the UNHCR workers today took place in broad daylight in Dushanbe during regular working hours. They were being transported out of the city, past government checkpoints. The incident, regrettably indicates the serious deterioration in the security situation for UNHCR and other international workers," she said.

The kidnap victims have reportedly been taken to Obigarm, 80 kilometers east of Dushanbe, a stronghold of an armed opposition group believed responsible for the kidnapping.

The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties Wednesday expressed their determination to help promote an overall settlement that would enable Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to live in peace and harmony in a bicommunal, bizonal federal Cyprus.

The leaders of the two communities met at an luncheon hosted by the Chief of Mission of the UN Operation in Cyprus, Gustave Feissel, on the occasion of the visit to Cyprus by the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Cyprus, Han Sung-Joo.

The UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) said in a statement that the luncheon offered a useful opportunity to review the Cyprus problem. "There was a great sense of urgency for a negotiated settlement under the aegis of the Secretary-General, in line with the 1977 and 1979 high-level agreements and the relevant Security Council resolutions," UNFICYP statement said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Mr. Chinmaya R. Gharekhan of India as Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories and Special Representative for the Multi-lateral Negotiations on the Middle- East, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard said.

The second appointment is that of Mr. Ibrahim Fall as Assistant Secretary- General in the Department of Political Affairs. Mr. Fall was previously Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights in Geneva and will be taking the position previously held by Mr. Lansana Kouyate. Mr. Kouyate's new assignment is to be announced shortly.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Thursday announced the election of Judge Stephen M. Schwebel of the United States of America as President of the Court for a three year term. He has been a Judge of the International Court since 1981. The ICJ also announced the election of Judge Christopher G. Weeramantry of Sri Lanka, a Judge of the Court since 1991, as Vice- President.

The fifteen member court, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, adjudicates disputes between States and gives advisory opinions to the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies. In recent years, the Court has more cases on its docket than ever before.

The Coordinator of the Multinational Interception Force (MIF), Vice-Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, has said that while the monitoring of the outflow of oil had been running smoothly, the challenge for the MIF, designed to prevent prohibited items from entering or leaving Iraq, would be the inflow of approved shipments of humanitarian goods to the port of Umm Qasr.

Addressing the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, Vice-Admiral Fargo expressed major concern over what he termed as an emerging pattern of sanctions violations by a number of ships which were smuggling gas and oil from Iraq. He added that these violations were taking place inside Iranian territorial waters, thus, skirting the MIF operations. Vice- Admiral Fargo said continued resolve from the international community was necessary to end such practices.

The MIF, one of the largest maritime sanctions monitoring and verification efforts in history, is operating in the Persian Gulf on the strength of Security Council resolution 665 (1990) and under national command. Vessels from 15 counties, serving on rotation, has so far participated in the force.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library of the UN Department of Public Information, New York, has announced its 1997 Training programme. The revised and expanded programme of training seminars and workshops has a strong emphasis on electronic information resources, including the Internet, and is open to delegates and staff of Permanent Missions and the UN secretariat.

The courses, many of which are being offered on an ongoing basis, include both basic and subject-focused Internet training, as for instance CyberSeek: a basic course in Internet information retrieval. Also available is a series on electronic news gathering, with sessions focusing on different regions of the world. Participants are taught the best sources and most effective research strategies for independent and/or librarian- assisted retrieval of current and relevant data.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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