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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-26

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 26 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.


  • United Nations Transitional Administrator for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium says 13 April 1997 is realistic date for holding of free and fair elections in region.
  • United Nations Secretary-General pays homage to Second World War hero, Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden.
  • Two officials from International Tribunal for Rwanda resign following review of a report of UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.
  • General Assembly President to address Council on Foreign Relations on relationship between United States and United Nations.
  • United Nations/OAU Special Representative to Great Lakes region calls upon all parties to cease hostilities.
  • UN Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina says unjustified force was used by West Mostar Police during Bajram day incident in Mostar, Bosnia.
  • Special Rapporteurs on human rights issues cancel visit to Nigeria.
  • Full employment should remain central objective of public policy, Commission for Social Development is told.
  • Policy options on migration include protecting migrant rights, Commission on Population and Development hears.
  • Rinderpest outbreak threatens livestock and wildlife in east Africa.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the Security Council that the Transitional Administrator for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium considered that, with the full cooperation of the parties, 13 April 1997 was a realistic and achievable date for the holding of free and fair elections in the region.

In a report to the Security Council on the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), Mr. Annan said the proposed date provided sufficient time for the residents to take documents, register and organise political parties, and campaign.

He said the political framework for elections, including the rights and guarantees given by the Government of Croatia, offered the residents of the region the prospect of full participation in Croatian political life as equal citizens. "Failure by the Serb community to participate in elections and take advantage of those rights and guarantees will only work against that community's best interests," the Secretary-General stated.

He called upon the residents of the region to consider carefully their options, to follow wise leadership and to take up their future as citizens of the Republic of Croatia.

Noting that the holding of elections would also depend on the readiness of the Government of Croatia to meet all preconditions, including the issuance of documents, provision of data and timely completion of the technical arrangements required for certification, Mr. Annan said concerns were emerging about irregularities in the issuance of documents and the registration of voters.

He expressed the hope that if the parties approached the issues constructively, there remained sufficient time to address those difficulties, including the question of local electoral boundaries which appeared to put the Serbs at a substantial disadvantage.

The Secretary-General said he was seriously concerned that no progress had been made with respect to the future of displaced persons and the establishment of equal treatment with respect to housing, access to reconstruction grants and loans, and to property compensation, as guaranteed by Croatian law.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Wednesday attended the unveiling of the Wallenberg Monument by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England, at Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London, England.

He described the occasion as "deeply moving, both as Secretary- General of the United Nations and in my personal capacity"; adding "Raoul is my wife's uncle". Mr. Annan said the monument should not only be a wonderful tribute to Raoul but an inspiration for others to act. "Raoul's life and achievements have thrust to the fore, the vital role of the bystander or the third party amidst conflict and suffering," he said.

Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest towards the end of the Second World War.

Mr. Annan is currently on a three-nation tour to Europe. He is expected to call on Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom, President Jacques Chirac of France, and Prime Minister Wim Kok of the Netherlands.

A United Nations Spokesman Wednesday said that, after reviewing the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the United Nations Secretary-General has decided that the continuation of two officials of the Tribunal in their posts, would not be in the interest of the United Nations and the work of the Tribunal, according to a Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General.

Following discussions with the Secretary-General and accepting that the best interests of the United Nations and the Tribunal were overriding concerns, the two officials, Mr. Honore Rakotomanana, Deputy Prosecutor, and Mr. Andronico Adede, Registrar, submitted their resignations from their respective posts.

"The Secretary-General has accepted their resignations and administrative procedures are being taken to separate them from the Organisation. It should however, be noted that the investigation found no evidence of corruption or misuse of public funds," the Spokesman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Tribunal, appointed Mr. Agwu Okali of Nigeria as the new Registrar of the Tribunal with immediate effect. Mr. Okali is currently serving as Director and Deputy to the Assistant Secretary-General for HABITAT in Nigeria.

The question of the relationship between the United States and the United Nations will be the focus of a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C. Wednesday evening.

General Assembly President Razali Ismail of Malaysia will be among the panelists and is expected to focus on the need for better communication, United States leadership, implications of the United States position and United Nations reform.

While in Washington D.C the Assembly President will meet with Senators Joseph Biden, Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Judd Gregg, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub- Committee on Commerce, Justice and State; and Senator Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose' Ayala Lasso has informed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan of his decision to resign as High Commissioner for Human Rights, a United Nations Spokesman said Wednesday. The resignation will be effective 15 March 1997.

"The Secretary-General has accepted with regret Mr. Ayala Lasso's resignation and looks forward to continuing working with him in his new capacity as Foreign Minister of Ecuador," the Spokesman said.

Until a final decision is made regarding Mr. Ayalo Lasso's successor, the Secretary-General has decided to appoint Mr. Ralph Zacklin, Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, as the Officer-in- Charge during the selection process for the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The United Nations/Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Special Representative to the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun has called upon all the parties to abide by Security Council resolutions and cease hostilities immediately, a United Nations Spokesman said.

"The break in fighting will enable the international community to establish the facts and consider the practical modalities for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, including mercenaries", the Spokesman said, adding "it will also promote the establishment of a durable peace through dialogue, the electoral process and the International Conference".

The Special Representative was gravely concerned about the escalation of fighting in eastern Zaire, including the air bombings, which was worsening the plight of the civilian population and impeding the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the Spokesman said.

The Spokesman said the Special Representative was proceeding with his consultations with key players from the region. He said "the large dispersion into inhospitable terrain of the inhabitants of eastern Zaire fleeing the fighting and the reported discovery of mass graves benefitted no one and discredited all protagonists, no matter how legitimate their cause".

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Kai Eide has said that the United Nations International Police Task Force (UN IPTF) investigative report on the Bajram day incidents in Mostar of 10 February, provided clear and irrefutable evidence that excessive and unjustified force was used by the West Mostar police.

The investigation also revealed a serious lack of cooperation with the investigation by the same police authorities in spite of the agreed Decisions of 12 February, the Special Representative said.

"A number of police officers who participated in this use of force have been identified. These police officers must now be suspended from their duties and subjected to criminal investigation and prosecution," Ambassador Eide said. He called for firm steps to be taken by all sides to restore order in Mostar.

Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs on human rights issues have canceled a mission to Nigeria following the Government's refusal to permit them to meet a number of people in detention.

The Special Rapporteurs on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy of Malaysia, and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Bacre Waly N'diaye of Senegal, had planned to visit Nigeria from 23 February to 5 March 1997, returning in time to report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Regretting the decision by the Government of Nigeria, the Special Rapporteurs said they would prepare a joint report for next month's Commission meeting based on available information on the situation in Nigeria.

Full employment should remain a central objective of public policy, the Commission for Social Development was told as it began its thirty- fifth session under the priority theme "productive employment and sustainable livelihoods".

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, said that the Commission should determine how full employment could be achieved in the context of government commitments to manage inflation and eliminate poverty. Employment was a crucial element of social development, because citizens acquired entitlements and social rights chiefly through their employment, he noted.

Presenting a report on the priority theme, a representative of the Employment and Training Department of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said that the time had come to debunk the notion that full employment was neither desirable nor possible. The ILO had studied the subject and had concluded that with political will, full employment was both desirable and achievable. He stressed that economic growth was essential to the creation of new jobs without decline in productivity.

The Special Rapporteur on Disability, Bengt Lindqvist, reported that the international acceptance of the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities had served to guide policy development in many countries around the world. During an exchange of views with the Special Rapporteur, several speakers expressed support for the renewal of his mandate.

The policy options on international migration include protection of the rights of documented migrants and increased development aid to countries of origin, the Commission on Population and Development was told as it began its general debate on national experience in population matters.

The representative of Indonesia said one way of preventing international migration was to negate the economic circumstances that caused skilled workers to leave. However, first a consensus was required on whether migration enhanced or retarded economic development in sending and receiving States. He stressed that, if properly directed, migration could enhance economic development for both the countries of origin and the recipient country.

The representative of the United States emphasised the continuing need for advocacy to fulfil the key objectives of the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. Also, broader reproductive rights programmes should be made operational to reduce instances of unintended pregnancy and maternal mortality.

The impact of migration on families was also highlighted by the Observer from the Holy See. He strongly supported family reunification and said such reunification was not only in the best interest of each individual family, but also in the best interest of the society where the family resided.

A rinderpest epidemic has spread dramatically in Kenya and has crossed the border into Tanzania, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement. The outbreak, considered to be the worst in the last 15 years, comes at a time when parts of eastern Africa are suffering from serious drought and tightening food supplies.

Rinderpest, the cause of the worst cattle plagues, is a highly contagious and lethal disease, also affecting wild animals such as buffaloes, eland and giraffe.

FAO said Kenyan and Tanzanian veterinary and wildlife specialists were currently surveying the situation in collaboration with the FAO Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) and the Organisation of African Unity's (OAU) Inter- African Bureau of Animal Resources.

According to FAO, local resources are not considered sufficient to meet the urgent needs of rinderpest surveillance and control in both countries. It said substantial donor support was urgently needed for a transboundary regional control programme to prevent a major livestock and wildlife catastrophe that could have serious consequences for food security in eastern and southern Africa.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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