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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-03

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


Tuesday, 3 June 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 concludes talks with African leaders at the OAU summit in Harare.
  • UN Secretary-General recommends a six-month extension of the oil-for-food deal on Iraq.
  • UN Committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq reports approval of oil contracts totalling $2.1 billion.
  • UN mission in Bosnia is disturbed by reports of human rights violations by local police.
  • UNHCR temporarily halts its work at a collection point near Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • A report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concern about recent developments in Rwanda.
  • UN trade law commission adopts model law on cross-border insolvency.
  • Namibian legal centre wins UNICEF's highest award.
  • UN health agency reports major progress in the treatment of leprosy.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan completed his visit to Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday, with a full day of meetings with heads of State or Government attending the summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The Secretary-General also had a breakfast meeting with Salim Ahmed Salim, OAU's newly re-elected Secretary-General, where the two leaders discussed the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the situation in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Annan also discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during meeting with the country's President Laurent Kabila. According to a UN spokesman, the very first issue the Secretary-General mentioned with President Kabila was the plight of the refugees and the need for more cooperation with the humanitarian community.

Secretary-General's Spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing at UN Headquarters on Tuesday that President Kabila had pledged to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and suggested a minister of his new government to be the contact person for UNHCR.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was expected to arrive in London Wednesday for series of meetings with United Kingdom's officials, including the new Foreign Secretary, Robin Cooke, the Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Shorte and the Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Tony Lloyd.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council's oil-for-food programme on Iraq be renewed for a further period of six months.

In a report to the Council, the Secretary-General said he was troubled by the persistent lags and other difficulties encountered in the processing of applications which resulted in major delays in the provision of several items. In particular, the delays affected medicine and pharmaceutical supplies, of which there is a critical and sometimes desperate shortage.

In the report released on Tuesday at UN Headquarters, the Secretary- General expressed hope that the situation could be remedied with the cooperation of all concerned, so that steps could be taken to include in the distribution plan the necessary provisions to satisfy the unmet needs of an urgent nature.

The Secretary-General noted that while every effort was made to anticipate potential problems in the process leading up to the conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding on the basis of which the programme was being executed, the complicated nature of the programme, including its managerial, administrative and financial aspects, led to a number of delays in the initial stages of its implementation.

The Security Council Committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq has reported that some 51 oil contracts have been approved with a total volume of 121 million barrels estimated at over $2.1 billion.

In a report released in New York on Tuesday, the Committee established under Security Council resolution 661 (1990), said that while the export of oil has proceeded well, there had been delays in the supply of humanitarian goods. The Committee noted, however, that progress had been made with regard to the processing of applications for humanitarian supplies to Iraq. The Committee said that it would continue to address remaining issues with the goal of resolving them expeditiously.

The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Tuesday that it was disturbed by the continued reports of human rights violations by local police in Sarajevo and Velika Kladusa.

Citing reports that Federation police had beaten detainees, the Mission said there would be independent investigation into the cases and the United Nations Interim Police Task Force (UNIPTF) would demand that disciplinary action be taken against those found guilty of human rights abuses.

Noting that the police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina must realize that the practice of beating detainees was unacceptable, the Mission said the UNIPTF would not hesitate in publishing the names of police officers involved.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ms. Elizabeth Rehn on Tuesday left for a field mission in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia- Herzegovina. Ms. Rehn is also expected to visit Brussels where she will meet with NATO representatives for the Bosnia operation.

Earlier, the Special Rapporteur announced that she would not run for the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ms. Rehn said in a statement that she did not want to leave her current missions in the former Yugoslavia unfinished during "a time when a lasting peace in Bosnia and surrounding countries by no means can be taken for granted".

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has temporarily halted its work at the Karuba collection point west of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The suspension of activities follows the reported killing of a local worker of Save the Children Fund late last week. A child and three adult refugees were also reportedly killed.

The UN refugee agency has called for investigations into the incident, stating that the suspension would last as long as it takes to get assurances that its workers and other aid agencies can work with security and without being harassed. UNHCR said the suspension affected both repatriation work and rehabilitation projects in the area.

There's been a steady deterioration of the security situation in some parts of Rwanda, while other areas remained relatively stable, according to a United Nations report on the Human Rights situation in Rwanda.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) notes in a summary report on the human rights situation in the country that it received reports of the killings of 344 persons in 48 separate incident during March and April. The highest number of killings occurred in the Ruhengeri Prefecture in northern Rwanda, the report stated.

Out of the 344 reported killings, 162 were said to be the responsibility of the State, including members of the Rwandan Army and 51 were attributed to the Interahamwe militia.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in Vienna has adopted a set of internationally harmonized legislative provisions on cross-border insolvency, in the form of a model law.

The new provisions, known as the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, are intended to assist States to improve their national insolvency legislation to be able to cope with the growing number of bankruptcies involving enterprises and individuals with assets in more than one country. The new law is expected to provide countries with a model for a fair and modern national legislative framework to deal with cross-border insolvencies.

UNCITRAL, which is charged with working out international agreements and trade laws designed to facilitate world trade, adopted the Model Law at the end of its regular session in Vienna which ended on Friday. During the three-week session, the UN trade law commission also continued its work on legal aspects of electronic commerce and began substantive work on legislative guidelines for privately financed infrastructure projects.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced that a legal centre in Namibia has won the Fund's highest honour in 1997 for outstanding contribution to the cause of human rights.

UNICEF said on Monday that the Legal Assistance Centre of Namibia, a non- profit, public-interest law firm, won the 1997 Maurice Pate Award for its efforts to protect children, and especially for its role in drafting child- rights legislation in Namibia. UNICEF's Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that the Centre's dedication to children's rights was "an inspiration not only to a region, but an entire continent."

UNICEF's annual Pate award, which recognizes extraordinary and exemplary leadership in the development and protection of children, is named for Maurice Pate, who served as the Agency's first Executive Director, from 1947 until his death in 1965.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that a simplified treatment of leprosy has successfully cured more than 8.4 million sufferers from the disease since 1981. The UN health agency said on Tuesday that a global strategy based on a combination of three powerful antileprosy drugs, the so called multidrug therapy or MDT, was working extremely well.

A committee of experts on leprosy which met at WHO headquarters in Geneva from 26 May to 3 June came to the conclusion that using a combination of three powerful drugs as single dose, is enough to cure a special class of leprosy, and that there is a possibility of shortening the treatment for the more severe form of the disease, the multibacillay (MB) leprosy from 24 to 12 months. The reported success of MDT has important implications for WHO which is working to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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