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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 12 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 appoints Personal Representative for East Timor.
  • United Nations report outlines shortcomings at International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
  • Non-Governmental Organisations brief Security Council on situation in Great Lakes region.
  • Preparatory Committee on International Criminal Court approves work programme for two-week session.
  • World Food Programme appeals for North Korea emergency food aid.
  • United Nations Population Fund announces winners of 1997 Award.
  • Regional meeting on disarmament to be held in Kathmandu from 24-26 February.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to appoint, with immediate effect, Ambassador Jamsheed K. A. Marker of Pakistan as his Personal Representative for East Timor, the Spokesman for the Secretary- General, Fred Eckhard announced Wednesday.

Ambassador Marker's appointment is part of the Secretary-General's efforts to give new impetus to his good offices aimed at finding a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor, the Spokesman said.

"While it is the intention of the Secretary-General to be personally involved in these efforts, he has asked Ambassador Marker to represent him in all aspects of his good offices functions on this issue, including the talks conducted between the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, and the consultations that the Secretary-General holds in the framework of his talks with a cross- section of East Timorese figures", the Spokesman noted.

He said the Secretary-General had received assurance from the governments of Indonesia and Portugal of their continued support and their desire to cooperate and work closely with Ambassador Marker, who is an experienced diplomat and previously served as Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the United Nations. He also served as Ambassador to the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and the former Soviet Union.

The effective establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has been affected by the short-term funding arrangements, by the geographical separation of the Prosecutor's Office from the other organs of the Tribunal and by the lack of adequate infrastructure at both Arusha and Kigali.

These are among findings contained in a report of the United Nations Secretary-General following an investigation by the United Nations Office for Internal Oversight Service (OIOS).

The report stated that the Office of the Prosecutor in Kigali had administrative, leadership and operational problems. "Functions were hampered by lack of experienced staff as well as lack of vehicles, computers and other office equipment and supplies. Lawyer posts were vacant and, of the almost 80 investigator posts, only 30 had been filled," the report noted.

The Secretariat also failed to provide adequate short-term support by assigning qualified staff members temporarily to the Tribunal especially during the critical start-up phase, according to the report.

The Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Karl Paschke Wednesday explaining the background of the report, told United Nations correspondents that some of the more significant and urgent findings as well as the major problems had already been addressed.

A group of non-governmental organisations, CARE, Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders, Wednesday briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Great Lakes region.

The discussions focused on the tremendous problems aid agencies have had in getting access to deliver aid to populations in need; the growing risks to the lives of both civilians and aid workers; and the spread of conflict into other countries in the region.

The three agencies called on the Security Council to make the Great Lakes crisis their priority in international diplomacy, in particular by putting full political and diplomatic resources behind the search for a regional political settlement.

The agencies also called on the Council to give full assistance to the United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and NGOs working in the region to gain access to affected populations, both to protect and to assist them. And to follow through on earlier commitments made on behalf of reconstruction and reconciliation in Rwanda.

"We discussed at some lengths our concerns over the last three years that, whereas, there had been considerable humanitarian activity, there had not always been political activity to match that," said David Bryer of Oxfam, following the meeting with the Security Council, adding that a concerted and sustained political effort by the United Nations Member States was required.

Earlier, the agencies said in a joint statement that the international community had tended to offer short-term responses to each successive chapter of the crisis. "It is time to realise the scale of the spreading conflict and the long-term danger it poses to the region. We are asking the Security Council to take action on the Great Lakes, to make it their highest priority," the statement said.

The Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court Tuesday approved its programme of work for the current two-week session, concentrating discussion in two working groups, one of which will consider the definition of crimes to be adjudicated by the court, the other on general principles of criminal law and penalties.

In an opening statement to the third session, Preparatory Committee Chairman Adriaan Bos (Netherlands), said that the mandate of the Committee to seek common solutions to substantive and administrative issues arising out of the courts draft statute was clear.

The current session would take into account differing views expressed at earlier sessions and in written proposals with a view to preparing a widely acceptable consolidated text of a convention for consideration by a conference of plenipotentiaries. He said the General Assembly had stressed that the Preparatory Committee must now embark upon the practical elaboration of a consolidated text, which clearly indicated the problems a diplomatic conference might be called upon to resolve.

Sankurathripati Rama Rao (India) said that the Preparatory Committee should galvanise consensus among delegations and identify areas of difficulty for resolution by a diplomatic conference. It should not, however, limit itself to amending the existing draft text and avoid policy discussions, the representative said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an urgent appeal for $41.6 million in emergency food aid for North Korea to assist 1,730,000 adults and children, the most seriously affected by worsening food shortages.

WFP said the aim was to raise a total of 100,000 metric tons of food as well as contributions to cover the cost of transport and the monitoring of its distribution. Although the appeal represents only a fraction of total food requirements, it is aimed at targeted groups of the population who are in most urgent need. The food will benefit 630,000 children for an entire year.

The 1997 United Nations Population Awards have been announced. Elizabeth Aguirre Calderon Sol, Director of the National Family Secretariat of El Salvador; Professor Toshio Kuroda, Director Emeritus, Nihon University Population Research Institute, Tokyo; and Senator Mechai Veravaidya, Director of the Population Development Association of Thailand are to receive the US$25,000 Award.

The Award is presented annually, since 1983, by the Committee of the United Nations Population Award to individuals and institutions which have made outstanding contributions to increasing the awareness of population problems and to their solutions.

The Centre for Disarmament Affairs, through its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, will convene a Regional Disarmament Meeting on "Nuclear Disarmament in the post- Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) Era." It will be held at the Regional Centre in Kathmandu from 24 to 26 February.

The meeting, the ninth in the series, intends to explore priorities in the field of nuclear disarmament after the adoption of the CTBT by the fiftieth General Assembly session in September 1996.

Some 35 participants from governments, academic and research institutions and non-governmental organisations, mainly from the Asia- Pacific region, are expected to attend the meeting.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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