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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-18

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

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday, 18 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

  • UN Secretary-General says Senate bill on US payments to the UN marks progress but falls short of what the Organization deserves.
  • United Nations enjoys excellent working relationship with the Organization of American States, says UN leader.
  • Security Council joins Secretary-General in expressing concern over recent developments in Hebron.
  • World Food Programme condemns brutal killings of staff members in Rwanda.
  • UN team investigating human rights situation in the occupied territories concludes its mission to the Middle East.
  • Special Committee on Decolonization hears conflicting views on East Timor.
  • Meeting of land-locked, transit developing countries begins at UN Headquarters.
  • An exhibit at UN Headquarters highlights problems of desertification as Earth Summit + 5 draws closer.


Reacting to the Senate action approving the authorization bill regarding US payments to the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the move did not give the United Nations everything it deserved.

The Secretary-General's spokesman said on Wednesday that the bill came with "difficult" benchmarks. But given where we started, said Spokesman Fred Eckhard, "we have to recognize that progress has been made".

"The Secretary-General notes with appreciation that the Senate has, for the first time in many years, held a full and serious debate on the United Nations and the United States role in it. He welcomes the bipartisan support for the United Nations which was manifested in the debates and hopes it will continue", said the statement released by the Spokesman.

Expressing his gratitude to President Clinton and his Administration for their strong and sustained effort to deliver on their promise to pay the dues, the Secretary-General said that the US administration knew that it would have to engage the rest of the Membership on the issue of benchmarks. With that process already under way, the Secretary-General looked forward to putting this issue behind so that "we can focus on what the United Nations is here to do", said the statement.


The need for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was the main theme of Secretary-General statement on Wednesday to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. Addressing the OAS Permanent Council, Mr. Annan said that the United Nations enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Organization of American States and that his aim was to deepen and broaden that relationship.

The two organizations, said the UN leader, are already pioneering new ways of working together. As examples, he pointed to the OAS/United Nations International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) and to Guatemala, where both organizations were playing an important role.

Highlighting another vital issue for the two international bodies, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there was a need for joint action to undercut the drug-traffickers and their deadly trade. The war on drugs could not be waged in the producer countries alone, he said. "It should be a shared responsibility between producer and consumer countries. Concerted action is needed".

During his one-day stay in Washington, Mr. Annan had a full schedule of activities, which included visits to the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institution.


UN Security Council has joined Secretary-General Kofi Annan in expressing concern over recent developments in Hebron. The Council President, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, told the press after the body met for consultations on Wednesday that the Council had expressed support for the statement released earlier in the day by the Secretary- General in which Mr. Annan had called for an immediate end to the violence and appealed for maximum restraint.

In the Secretary-General's view, the tragic events of the past few days underlined the urgent need for confidence to be restored, for all sides to refrain from provocative acts and for conditions to be created in which the peace process could be resumed.


The World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday condemned the brutal killing of two of its staff members in separate incidents in Rwanda. In one incident, Didace Nkezagera, a WFP national field officer in Ruhengeri, was found dead in his home, along with the bodies of his wife, a child, and a relative. They had all been shot to death by unidentified assailants.

In second incident, WFP learned on Tuesday that Jean de Dieu Murwanashyaka, a contract clerk, had been found dead in a forest near the same town. He had died of a single bullet wound to the head. A spokesman for the World Food Programme said that the killings came amid a climate of mounting insecurity in certain areas of Rwanda. Details of the incidents were still sketchy, and WFP was seeking an investigation into the killings.


The Special Committee on Decolonization heard conflicting views on the question of East Timor, as some petitioners reported economic progress under Indonesia, while others cited human rights abuses by the Indonesian armed forces.

During the hearings in the Committee on Tuesday, petitioners supporting the integration of East Timor into Indonesia gave examples of marked socio- economic improvement under Indonesia. A representative of the East Timor based COVALIMA organization pointed to the Indonesian Government's grants to the Territory totalling almost $200 million.

Others, however, said that the East Timorese had experienced human rights abuses and must be guaranteed their right to self-determination. A member of the Social Democratic Centre-Popular Party in the Portuguese Parliament questioned whether the economic improvements which had been made were worth the lives they had cost or the freedom of the East Timorese people. A representative of Parliamentarians for East Timor meanwhile stressed that the East Timorese had not been able to exercise their right to self- determination. Later in the debates, a representative of Indonesia argued that the question of East Timor had long ceased to be a decolonization issue and that the Special Committee should strike it off its agenda.


A UN committee charged with investigating the human rights situation in the occupied territories says the momentum of the peace negotiations has to be maintained and that the Oslo agreement should be implemented in full by both sides.

Following its field mission to Egypt, Jordan and Syria, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories expressed the belief that the repeated delays in the implementation of the accords could only endanger the peace process further. After meetings in Geneva at the end of May, the Committee held a series of hearings in Cairo, Amman and Damascus, where it concluded its mission on 8 June.

The Special Committee said the peace process had reached a decisive stage and that if negotiations were not resumed and the agreements that had already been reached were not fully implemented, the cycle of violence and conflict would continue.

The three-member Special Committee, comprising Sri Lanka, Senegal and Malaysia, indicated that the principle of land for peace underlying the peace agreements should be complied with.


Representatives of landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners on Wednesday begun a three day meeting in New York to review progress in the improvement of transit transport systems.

The meeting is a third in a series of consultations, and is expected to agree on priorities for future action. Earlier meetings, notably the June 1995 session, resulted in the adoption of the global framework for transit transport cooperation between land-locked and transit developing countries and donor partners.

In spite of substantial improvement in transit transport arrangement, transit costs for land-locked developing countries remain far higher in most cases than those facing coastal countries, and higher still when compared with the similar costs facing developed countries, according to UNCTAD, the UN agency tasked with promoting international trade.


International labour standards prevailing in Hong Kong prior to transfer of sovereignty will be applied after 1 July 1997 by the Government of China, according to the International Labour Organization.

The 85th International Labour Conference in Geneva was told on Tuesday that the ILO Director-General had received forty six notifications from the Government of China concerning the application or continued application to Hong Kong after 1 July, of International Labour Conventions.

According to the statement read out at the Plenary session of the International Labour Conference, these notifications would be registered as of 1 July 1997, and "will ensure the continued application to Hong Kong from that date of all he Conventions which were applicable to Hong Kong until that date under declarations made by the Government of the United Kingdom, except three which were specifically designated for non- metropolitan areas".

The ILO, which was established in 1919, works to improve working and living conditions and sets international labour standards to serve as guidelines for national authorities.


Among many issues debated in preparation for the upcoming Earth Summit + 5, the problem of desertification received special attention as a result of a world-wide observance, on 17 June, of the World Day to Combat Desertification.

The causes, effects and responses to desertification were highlighted in a week-long exhibit that has been on display at UN Headquarters in New York through Wednesday.

The exhibit, featuring photos from Kenya, was sponsored by the UN Development Programme/Office to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNDP/UNSO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International NGO Network on Desertification and Drought (RIOD).


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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