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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-04-29

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


Tuesday, 29 April 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.


  • Chemical Weapons Convention enters into force; marks a historic stage in global disarmament.
  • UNESCO denounces the killing of 17 school children and their headmistress in Murumba, western Rwanda.
  • The World Health Organisation welcomes new AIDS treatment but warns against excessive optimism.
  • The international community should call for a freeze on the residency rights policy currently being carried out by Israel, a Palestinian lawyer tells Committee on the Rights of the Palestinian People.
  • World crime and justice issues to be discussed at a two-week United Nations meeting in Vienna.
  • The Commission on Sustainable Development approves draft final document for General Assembly's special session on Agenda 21.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) has entered into force on Tuesday. The Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons, marks an historic stage in global disarmament.

It took 20 years of negotiation, and is the first multilateral disarmament treaty to envisage the elimination of an entire category of weapons. So far, 87 States have ratified the Convention and the total number of signatories stand at 165.

The implementation of the Convention will be supervised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague. Its verification system includes annual and periodic declarations and other reporting requirements as well as an elaborate inspection regime consisting of routine and challenge inspections.

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Federico Mayor on Tuesday denounced the killing of 17 school children and their head mistress in an attack on two schools in Murumba, western Rwanda. The attack left another 13 pupils injured.

"This attack on Rwandan children is an unforgivable crime against the most basic principles of humanity. It is all the more grievous as it undermines the Rwandan people's hope for a better future in their country which has been steeped in tragedy for so long," he said.

The Director-General said UNESCO, as the UN agency in charge of education, science and culture, can but be outraged by such crimes perpetrated in a school which should be a haven of peace and learning where a more propitious future is nurtured.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is premature to suggest that HIV/AIDS will soon be a chronic, non-fatal disease. This, despite the fact that the "so-called triple therapies, which use combinations of three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs including a protease inhibitor to combat HIV/AIDS, have shown impressive results in clinical trials".

"The wave of optimism that has enveloped the international AIDS community in relation to the new therapies must not lead policy makers to abandon their commitment to essential long-term activities such as prevention programmes and the search for vaccines, microbicides and other effective preventive interventions", the WHO Director-General, Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, warned.

Addressing an Informal Consultation on the Implications of Antiretroviral Treatments at WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Nakajima reminded participants that the longest clinical trials with the new triple therapies have lasted only two years.

Possible problems with resistance to the new therapies, already evidenced in mono- and bitherapies, have not been clarified, while more time may be necessary to indicate sustainability of clinical outcomes, he stated.

The international community should call for a freeze on the residency rights policy currently being carried out by Israel, Osama Halaby, Palestinian Druze lawyer and former Director of the Legal Department of the Quaker Legal Aid Centre in East Jerusalem, told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

As part of a briefing sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, a non-governmental organisation, Mr. Halaby said the United nations had an important role to play in calling on Israel to cease its "quiet deportation" of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities were confiscating Jerusalem identification cards from Palestinians if they could not prove that their "centre of life" was in Jerusalem, he said.

According to Lea Tsemel, an Israeli lawyer who shared the briefing with Mr. Halaby, the policy of confiscating identification cards from palestinians and denying them residency and rights in Jerusalem had been in effect for a number of years and could have a profound effect on the final status negotiations on Jerusalem.

Global measures needed to combat numerous new forms of criminality throughout the world will be the main focus of debate when the Vienna- based United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice meeting which started on Monday.

High on the agenda is United Nations efforts to combat corruption of public officials, a move that has been gaining momentum now that the 185-Member General Assembly during last December adopted two important resolutions setting international norms for conduct by public officials and in international trade.

The task before the 40-member Commission will now be to develop concrete measures that can be followed by States seeking to act against such practices as bribery, fraud, illicit political contributions, vote by buying and other abuses.

With the increasing globalisation of organised criminality, and the movement of organised criminals into such areas as international car theft, the smuggling of illegal migrants, trafficking in children and trafficking in donor organs, the Commission is expected to decide on whether to proceed towards the elaboration of an international convention aimed at eliminating the loopholes allowing such groups to proliferate.

The Commission on Sustainable Development concluded its fifth session on friday by approving a draft final document to be transmitted to the nineteenth special session of the General Assembly which will review the implementation of Agenda 21.

During the three-week session, the 53-member Commission met to prepare for the Assembly's special session, to be held from 23 to 27 June. The draft final document as approved by the commission, generally, the structure of the report of the Commission's Ad Hoc Working Group, excluding an introductory statement of commitment or policy.

The papers approved dealt with an assessment of progress made since UNCED, implementation in areas requiring urgent action, and international institutional arrangements.

In addition, the Commission approved two draft decisions, one on the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and the other on the suggested programme of work to be included in the proposed programme budget for the 1998 - 1999 biennium.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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