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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-21

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


Friday, 21 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.


  • Humanitarian assistance commendable, but roots of conflict must be addressed, UN Secretary-General tells Geneva Conference.
  • UN Secretary-General says Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and Caribbean is pillar of global nuclear non- proliferation regime.
  • United Nations/Organisation for African Unity (OAU) Special Representative for Great Lakes region says highest priority must be given to stopping armed conflict in eastern Zaire.
  • Senior UN official says second Ministerial meeting on Liberian peace process, held in New York, expressed differing views on voting by Liberian refugees in neighbouring States; agreed on date for elections.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says US$38.2 million needed for 1997 Angola repatriation programme.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes recent ratification by Estonia and Lithuania of International Refugee Convention.
  • UNESCO Director-General calls for recognition of "human rights for peace".

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that while the international community was to be commended for its rapid responses to complex and large- scale humanitarian emergencies, such efforts would not have been necessary had the international community been able to prevent identifiable threats from becoming terrible realities.

In a message to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Carnegie Commission Conference on Humanitarian Response and Preventing Deadly Conflict, held in Geneva earlier this week, Mr. Annan said the international community had not taken sufficient notice of early warning signals, which would have allowed a response at more manageable pre-crisis stages.

"The international community has also been unable to prevent the outbreak of conflicts, as illustrated by the examples of Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda and more recently the Great Lakes region," he said.

Mr. Annan explained that even when a conflict could not be averted, there remained a need for preventive action; to keep a conflict from escalating, and to preclude its resumption should diplomatic efforts to end it succeed.

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) is a pillar of the global nuclear non- proliferation regime, says UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In a message on the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Mr. Annan said efforts were under way to create additional nuclear-weapon-free zones. "Their adoption, if mutually agreed by the States of the region and other concerned States, would be a boon to regional security cooperation and would represent a further step in the direction of a nuclear-free world," the Secretary- General said.

The UN/Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Special Representative to the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun says highest priority must be given to stopping the armed conflict in Eastern Zaire to avoid a major humanitarian tragedy.

Addressing United Nations correspondents at the UN Office in Geneva Friday, Ambassador Sahnoun appealed to the protagonists to stop fighting or be judged responsible for the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

He said those responsible for keeping peace, including the Security Council, should give a strong, firm and clear message to the protagonists to stop, adding that if there was not such a clear message then the international community would also be responsible for the tragedy.

Ambassador Sahnoun welcomed the efforts by South Africa to establish a dialogue between the Zairian government and the rebels.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Marrack Goulding says while the second Ministerial Meeting of the Special Conference to Support the Peace Process in Liberia, held Thursday in New York, was in agreement that the elections should take place on the agreed date of 30 May, there was also a recognition that it would be a very difficult task in the security situation.

Speaking to UN correspondents Friday, Mr. Goulding said the only issue where differing views were expressed was whether Liberian refugees in neighbouring countries should be able to vote there or whether voting could only take place on Liberian territory.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Friday launched an appeal for US$38.2 million for its repatriation programme this year for more than 300,000 Angolan refugees.

The agency said more than 74,000 Angolan refugees had returned to Angola since June when it started activities in Angola. "In the last year alone, about 59,400 Angolans returned on their own to their country. Many more wish to return," said Nicolas Bwakira, UNHCR's Regional Director for Southern Africa Operations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has welcomed the recent ratification by Estonia and Lithuania of the International Convention on Refugees.

Lithuania acceded to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of Refugees on 21 January, followed by Estonia on 19 February. The two countries had also adopted national legislation on refugees prior to acceding to the major refugees instrument.

UNHCR said in a statement Friday that Baltic States had been plagued by waves of transit migration ever since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. "Many of the migrants used illegal means to go west. I am pleased that refugees fleeing persecution can now seek asylum in the Baltics without having to continue their dangerous journey," said John Horekens, UNHCR's Regional Director for Europe.

The agency said the decision of the two Baltic States to accede to the international refugee instrument confirms the emergence of growing cohesion in the Baltic Sea area, which replaces the old division between the East and the West.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director-General Federico Mayor has said that "human right to peace" should be recognised and next year's 50th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can provide this opportunity. Mr. Mayor's statement calls for moving beyond Article III of the Universal Declaration by turning peace into a veritable human right.

He called for an urgent mobilisation for a transition within two or three years from a culture of war to a culture of peace. "Let us translate the Declaration of Human Rights into all languages; let it be studied in every classroom and every home, all over the world. Today's ideal may thus become the happy reality of tomorrow", the Director- General said.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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