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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-02-28

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Friday, 28 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.


  • Meaningful and lasting reform of United Nations requires political will, compromise and resources, UN General Assembly President says.
  • United Nations Development Programme report examines critical role of energy in development.
  • United Nations Children's Fund Executive Director says hazardous child labour can be abolished; calls on Governments to back words with action.
  • Australia has achieved non-inflationary economic growth and restructuring without exposing workers to uncertainties of deregulated labour market, Commission for Social Development hears.
  • Foreign direct investment from Asia into Europe on the rise, new report says.
  • Direct United Nations commitment to urban poor called for at Seminar on Regional Community Participation in Human Settlements.

Many of the limitations and unmet objectives of the United Nations have been due to the unbridled power politics of the cold war, which rendered the Organisation impotent, according to General Assembly President, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia.

Addressing the twenty-third Annual Yale Model United Nations, at Yale University, United States, the Assembly President said many developing countries considered the history of the United Nations as marked by the ability of a few countries to exercise an overriding influence over the institutional framework of the Organisation and its policy direction.

"Many claim the same today, despite the end of the cold war, which momentarily elevated hopes that the United Nations would play an invigorated role, allowed to address international problems without the great ideological divide", he said.

He said that despite the disappointment, the vast majority of Member States and people expected the United Nations to act as an agent of progress and change, equipped to play an effective and leading role in improving the economic and social conditions of the world's peoples.

The Assembly President emphasised that United Nations reform would be successful if Member States first determined whether the Organisation was to be strengthened to deal with the twenty-first century.

He said Member States should provide a common vision for the future, political recommitment, a reasonable reform process that comes to closure, and adequate financial resources.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Friday released a report entitled "Energy after Rio: Prospects and Challenges". The report discusses the critical linkage of energy to poverty and development, and states that implementing sustainable energy strategies was one of the most important levers humankind had for creating a sustainable world.

"Energy is directly related to the most pressing social issues which affect sustainable development. Without attention to the importance of energy, the global social goals agreed upon at UN conferences in the 1990s cannot be achieved," the report says.

UNDP Administrator James Gustave Speth expressed the hope that the report could serve to foster the international debate and consensus process concerning the importance of sustainable energy and refocus international commitment on those critical issues during the 1997 Review of Rio.

The report notes that more than 1.5 billion people today lack access to electricity and two billion people still use traditional fuels such as firewood and animal dung for cooking.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Carol Bellamy says hazardous child labour is a betrayal of every child's right and an offence against civilisation.

In an address, to the conference on child labour organised by the Government of the Netherlands in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Friday, the Executive Director said tackling such labour should not wait until some future day when world poverty had been brought to an end.

Citing the almost worldwide ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Ms. Bellamy said that if governments would deliver on the commitments they had already made under the Convention, the world would be free of child labour in the next five years.

While education was key to the solution to child labour, there were no simple or single answers and any comprehensive attack must advance on several fronts, she noted. Ms. Bellamy said that UNICEF had drawn up a list of six steps for the eradication of child labour, including the immediate elimination of hazardous and exploitative child labour, and the provision of free and compulsory education.

Australia has achieved non-inflationary economic growth and restructuring without exposing workers to the uncertainties of a deregulated labour market, the Commission for Social Development was told as it undertook second panel discussions on productive employment and sustainable livelihoods, the priority theme of the current session.

Ralph Willis, Member of the Australian Parliament, told the Commission that a unique Accord between the Australian Government and unions had balanced moderate wage increases with significant improvements in non-cash benefits in the form of increased government expenditure on education, health, housing and community services.

The failure of the formal economic sector in Africa had led to the development of a huge informal sector, David Boateng, Minister for Employment and Social Welfare of Ghana, told the Commission. By undertaking massive divestiture programmes, African governments had conferred on the private sector the role of the new engine of growth, he said.

Discussing the panel presentation, delegates spoke of the need to harmonise the pursuit of macroeconomic objectives with those of full employment, expressing curiosity and concern over how various countries had handled problems of labour, productivity, resources, and regional cooperation. The representative of China told the Commission how his country had solved the problem of rural unemployment.

A report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) entitled "Sharing Asia's Dynamism: Asian Direct Investment in the European Union", says foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from Asia into Europe has increased from an average $100 million during 1989 - 1991 to an average $860 million during 1992 - 1994.

While North America remained their main investment location beyond Asia, the activities of the investors from Asian developing countries in the European Union had gathered momentum, both in manufacturing and services, the report notes.

According to UNCTAD, the share of the European Union in the total FDI stock from developing Asia reached about 5 per cent in 1995. Though that was still relatively low, UNCTAD observes, it does "not reflect neglect, but rather the fact that Asian firms are just at the beginning of their entry into Europe".

UNCTAD anticipates a continuing upsurge in FDI from developing Asia into the European Union. The report reviews various measures that could be taken to increase Asian FDI in Europe, to the benefit of both investors and host countries.

A seminar on "The Role of Community Development in Shelter and Human Settlements Improvement" concluded yesterday afternoon at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok with participants calling for a new style of United Nations programme which is flexible, participatory and focused directly on the needs of the urban poor.

The Regional Seminar, which was organised by the Community Development Programme for Asia of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements from 24 to 26 February, brought together some 45 participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Sri lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Participants assessed the current problems poor urban communities face in obtaining access to housing and services.

Participants at the seminar requested the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) Programme to assist in directly promoting and strengthening community-based processes in their countries.

It was generally agreed that only when communities are involved in the planning and implementation of shelter and settlement upgrading projects which affect their lives, will the resulting developments be appropriate and sustainable.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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