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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-13

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, 13 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.

HEADLINES

  • Security Council deplores Iraqi interference with air operations by the UN Special Commission.
  • General Assembly appropriates over $850 million for peacekeeping operations.
  • The General Committee recommends inclusion of an item on UN reform in the agenda of the General Assembly.
  • US Senator says Congressional plan to pay off US arrears to the UN will forge way for a new partnership.
  • WFP starts relief food distribution to thousands of vulnerable people in Sierra Leone.
  • UNHCR is concerned about the fate of Rwandan refugees who have run out of food in Congo/Brazzaville.
  • Committee on Decolonization calls on administering Powers to cooperate with the UN.
  • Security Council agrees with the appointment of Liviu Bota (Romania) as resident Special Representative for Georgia.


The Security Council on Friday expressed serious concern at four recent incidents in which Iraqi personnel had interfered with helicopter flights carrying out inspection of sites designated by the UN Special Commission responsible for the destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The interference incidents, described by the Council as unacceptable, took place on 4, 5 and 7 June, endangering the helicopters and their crews, as well as persons on the ground.

In a statement read out at an open meeting by the Council's current President, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, the Security Council deplored the incidents and underlined that Iraq must immediately take effective steps to put an end to all such actions. The Council affirmed that Iraq was obliged to ensure the security of the personnel of the Special Commission and to permit the Commission to carry out its air operations anywhere in Iraq without interference of any kind.


By adopting over twenty resolutions, the General Assembly on Friday appropriated over $850 million for the budgets of a dozen active peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998.

The amount, which includes provisions for the support account for peacekeeping, reflects a drop from the more than $1.2 billion sought for the previous 12-month period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997. All of the texts were approved without a vote, with the exception of the resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on which two votes were held.

By a vote of 66 in favour to 2 against (Israel and U.S.), with 59 abstentions, the General Assembly adopted paragraph 8 of the resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which stated that Israel should bear responsibility for the cost of some $1.8 million as a result of the 18 April 1996 incident at UNIFIL headquarters at Qana, Lebanon. The Assembly then adopted the financing resolution as a whole, by a vote of 127 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Russian Federation).


A General Assembly committee responsible for the body's work programme recommended on Friday to include an additional item in the agenda of the Assembly's current session to consider the question of UN reform.

Acting on a request of the Secretary-General, the General Committee recommended that the Assembly include in the agenda of its current session an item entitled, "United Nations reform: measures and proposals".

In a letter dated 2 June 1997, the Secretary-General had said he would like to present his report on United Nations reform personally, and that he expected to be able to do so on 16 July 1997. The report would cover further measures the Secretary-General intended to take to restructure the Secretariat and improve its capacities and effectiveness in serving Member States, Kofi Annan said.


The plan approved Thursday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pay off United States arrears to the United Nations would forge the way for a new and very important partnership, United States Senator Rod Grams said on Friday. Senator Grams, who a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and Congressional member of the US delegation to the General Assembly, made his comments during a press conference at UN Headquarters where he had earlier met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Senator Grams told the UN press corps that the bill contained a very broad outline of reforms that were aimed at helping to improve the services at the United Nations. "We wanted to have an atmosphere of not trying to micro- manage the UN by any means", said the Senator, noting that it was "up to the UN and to the Member States to do the detailed work".

Commenting on the Congressional move yesterday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the press that it did not necessarily mean that UN Member States were going to accept the United States plan.

"My sense is that, on quite a lot of the issues, the United States will have to come and negotiate and discuss with the other Member States", the Secretary-General told a press conference on Thursday. "I do not think anyone expects that Congress can take decisions and impose them unilaterally on the other 184 Member States".


The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday expressed concern about the fate of 18,000 Rwandan refugees in Congo/Brazzaville.

A UNHCR spokeswoman said in Geneva that the agency had been unable to reach the refugees since the fighting broke out last week. According to UNHCR, refugees in a transit camp in Bilolo and in Lukolola, north of Brazzaville, had run out of food and medicines.


The World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday announced that it would start a limited relief food distribution in Sierra Leone.

The UN food agency said that a food distribution programme would be targeted at tens of thousands of vulnerable people in Freetown and in urban centres such as Kenema, Bo and Makeni. Most of those people were in hospitals, clinics, orphanages and schools, WFP said.

Depending on the security situation, WFP said it was planning to distribute various commodities through the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations which are still able to operate in Sierra Leone.

WFP said that it was also making preparations for rural areas of Sierra Leone where people affected by the conflict might decide to leave their homes and go to other locations within the country or neighbouring countries.


The Special Committee on Decolonization has called on administering Powers to cooperate with the United Nations by receiving visiting missions in the Territories under their administration.

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met in New York this week to discuss developments in the non-self governing territories of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

During one of the Committee's meetings on Thursday, Carlyle Corbin, who spoke on behalf of the Governor of the United States Virgin islands, urged the Committee to make a clear statement that the failed 1994 referendum in the islands should never be cited to deprive its people of the opportunity to effect a legitimate act of self-determination. He said that fewer than 50 per cent of the registered voters had taken part in the referendum.

Mr. Corbin proposed that the Special Committee report to the General Assembly on the implementation of the resolution on the territories and the plan of action for the International Decade on the Eradication of Colonialism.


The United Nations Security Council has agreed with the Secretary- General's decision to appoint Mr. Liviu Bota (Romania) the new resident Special Representative for Georgia, succeeding Ambassador Edouard Brunner (Switzerland). Mr. Bota will assume his new position on 1 July 1997. He has been serving as the resident deputy to the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Georgia and as Head of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) since 1 October 1995.
For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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