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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-24

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Monday, 24 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 outlines imperative of education and indispensable role of United Nations at American Council on Education meeting in Washington D.C.
  • Three-member Historical Clarification Commission announced as part of implementation of Guatemala Peace Accord.
  • Taliban arrests two French non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers in Afghanistan.
  • Preparatory Committee on Establishment of International Criminal Court recommends that General Assembly accept proposal to hold Plenipotentiary Conference on creation of court in Italy.
  • Linkages between migration and development to be discussed at thirtieth session of Commission on Population and Development.
  • First session of Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorist Bombings and Nuclear Terrorism begins at UN Headquarters in New York.
  • Productive employment and sustainable livelihood is priority theme of thirty-fifth session of Commission for Social Development.

The imperative of education and the indispensable role of the United Nations was the central theme of an address by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the American Council on Education, Monday in Washington D.C.

In his address to college and university leaders from the United States and abroad, Mr. Annan said trends such as democratisation and economic liberalisation had opened up new perspectives for education.

"An increasing number of nations, including many which have experienced ethnic conflict and civil strife, are searching for educational content and methods that will help them reach a number of inter-related goals: Strengthening respect for human rights and practice of democracy; defeating poverty; protecting the environment; and improving the prospects for international peace and understanding", Mr. Annan said.

The Secretary-General told the meeting that conditions of poverty worked against promoting universal access to quality education. He said a lack of resources meant that schools were not built, teachers were not hired and access to new technologies was limited, if not impossible.

Noting that some citizens had lost faith in the United Nations, owing in part to ignorance, misinformation and myth, Mr. Annan said very little material on the United Nations was included in formal curricula. He said the surest support for the Organisation found its roots in knowledge about the United Nations and its work.

As part of the implementation of the Guatemala Peace Accords, signed on 29 December 1996, the composition of the Historical Clarification Commission was finalised in Guatemala City on Saturday, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Fred Eckhard said in a statement. The Commission's mandate is to investigate human rights violations and other violence committed during the 35-year armed conflict and to promote national reconciliation.

Preparatory work prior to the Commission's formal establishment is expected to last 2 months. After it is established, the Commission's work is to last 6 months, renewable for a further period of 6 months, according to the Spokesman.

"As recognised in the peace accords, knowledge and public recognition of the victim's sufferings is a fundamental right of the victims, a critical component of national reconciliation and an important factor to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy that befell Guatemala during the conflict," the Spokesman said.

The Secretary-General expressed the hope that the international community would lend its full support to "this essential component of the peace process in Guatemala", the Spokesman noted.

Two French non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers have been arrested by the Taliban, in Afghanistan, the Spokesman for the Secretary- General Fred Eckhard said Monday.

According to the Spokesman, the two men were seized and taken to a secret location by the Taliban. He said the UN was working with French authorities to resolve the matter and had informed the Taliban that their actions were violations of UN premises and that unless the two were released, the Taliban's international image would be further undermined.

The United Nations also informed the Taliban that there was a chance that the NGO community, which was assisting the Afghan people, would be inclined to leave Afghanistan if the arrested workers were not released, according to the Spokesman.

The Spokesman said the position of the United Nations was that the two workers should be released on humanitarian grounds because they committed no offence which would justify their arrest.

The Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court has recommended that the General Assembly accept the proposal of Italy to host, in June 1998, a plenipotentiary conference on the creation of the court.

The Preparatory Committee recommended that the Assembly accept the proposal after consideration by its Committee on Conferences, and on the basis of the usual practice concerning the funding of events of that kind taking place outside United Nations Headquarters or other United Nations seat.

The Committee also took note of the reports of its working groups on the definition of crimes and on the general principles of criminal law and penalties, in which most of the work of the third session was concentrated.

Committee Chairman Adriaan Bos of the Netherlands said that prior to the diplomatic conference on the establishment of the court, the Committee would need to discuss among others, the establishment of the court, composition and administration of the Court; its jurisdiction; general principles of criminal law; investigation and prosecution; trial, appeal and review; international cooperation and judicial assistance; and penalties and enforcement.

At its next two-week session, scheduled for August, the work of the Preparatory Committee is expected to concentrate in two working groups, focusing on complementarity and the trigger mechanism; and on procedures.

International migration, with special emphasis on the linkages between migration and development and on gender issues and the family, is the central theme of the thirtieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, which began Monday in New York.

The Commission, founded in 1946 and originally known as the Population Commission, was given a new impetus by the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994.

The central theme of the five day session, "international migration, with special emphasis on the linkages between migration and development and on gender issues and the family", includes issues that have been on the international agenda for many years, as well as new and emerging issues.

The Ad Hoc Committee set up by the General Assembly to elaborate conventions on the suppression of terrorist bombings and on acts of nuclear terrorism began Monday at UN Headquarters in New York. Established by a General Assembly resolution, the Committee was also mandated to address means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with international terrorism.

At its first session, the Committee will have before it two draft conventions that have been submitted to facilitate its efforts to shape international law on the question of terrorism.

The first, a draft international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings, is a working paper submitted by France on behalf of the "Group of Seven" and the Russian Federation. The 17-article draft covers such issues as the definition, detention and extradition of suspects, as well as efforts to prevent the actions to be proscribed by the Anti- Terrorist Bombing Convention.

The second, a draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, was submitted by the Russian Federation. The proposal would have States parties to cooperate in preventing or prosecuting against acts of nuclear terrorism. They would, for instance, adopt necessary legislative and technical measures to protect nuclear material, installations and devices and to forestall unauthorised access to them by third parties.

Productive employment and sustainable livelihoods will be the priority theme of the upcoming session of the Commission for Social Development, to be held in New York from 25 February to 6 March, as it continues its review of progress made in the implementation of the outcome of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.

The 46-member Commission has the primary responsibility for monitoring the follow-up to the Social Summit. It has been doing so through a multi-year programme of work leading to the year 2000 and focusing on major themes of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.

At a special session last year, the Commission discussed the goal of poverty eradication. The last theme of the five-year programme will be the Commission's contribution to the year 2000 special session of the General Assembly to review the implementation of the outcome of the Social Summit.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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