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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-19
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 19 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.
The Security Council on Thursday expressed grave concern at the recent increase in attacks or use of force in conflict situations against refugees and other civilians.
In a Presidential statement read out at an open meeting by the Council President, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, the Council said such acts were in violation of the relevant rules of international law.
The Council reiterated its condemnation of the attacks and called on all those concerned to comply strictly with the relevant rules of international law. In particular, it called on all parties concerned to ensure the safety of refugees, displaced persons and other civilians, and guarantee the unimpeded and safe access of United Nations and other humanitarian personnel to those in need.
The Security Council also expressed concern at all attacks or use of force against United Nations and other personnel associated with UN operations and called on all parties in conflict to ensure the safety of such personnel.
On a related matter, the Council noted that massive displacement of civilian populations in conflict situations might pose a serious challenge to international peace and security.
Stressing the importance of crisis prevention, including the addressing of the root causes of such crises, the Council encouraged the Secretary- General and all States to look further into practical ways to enhance the United Nations capacity and capability in crises prevention.
The Security Council on Thursday authorized the multinational protection force to continue its operation in Albania for a limited period of forty- five days from 28 June 1997.
In a resolution adopted by 14 votes with one abstention (China), the Council welcomed the intention of the countries contributing to the multinational protection force to continue to facilitate the safe and prompt delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to help create a secure environment for the missions of international organizations in Albania.
The Council authorized the Member States participating in the force to conduct the operation in a neutral and impartial way. It decided that the cost of implementing this temporary operation would be borne by the participating Member States.
The Council also encouraged the Member States participating in the force to cooperate closely with the Government of Albania, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and assist in the electoral process in Albania, in cooperation with Albanian authorities.
In his report to the Security Council on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that the effective operation of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and other branches of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina depended largely on the presence on the ground of a credible military force.
The IPTF, among other things, is charged with contributing to the improvement of freedom of movement and to assist in the establishment of safe conditions during the forthcoming election campaign.
Noting that the refusal of the Republika Srpska Government to cooperate fully with IPTF in the implementation of its mandate is a matter of great concern, the UN leader called for concerted action by the international community to ensure compliance by the Government of the Republika Srpska with all elements of annex 11 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace.
The Secretary-General also appealed to Governments to provide financial support both for the Police Assistance Programme and for the Mine Action Centre.
In a related development, the Special Representative of the Secretary- General and Coordinator of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), Ambassador Kai Eide, on Thursday spoke to journalists in New York after he briefed the Security Council on the activities of the mission.
The Special Representative said the UN mission was trying to wrestle away the control of the police forces from the arbitrary control of political leaders. He said the mission was also attempting to achieve a breakthrough in ensuring freedom of movement.
After hearing a briefing on Western Sahara by UN Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast, the Members of the Security Council on Thursday expressed satisfaction that the parties agreed to hold direct private talks in Lisbon on 23 June under the auspices of UN Secretary-General through his special envoy.
Speaking to the press outside the Council chamber, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, the Council's President, noted that the aim of the talks was to discuss the implementation of the settlement plan or such adjustment to it as the parties might further agree. Ambassador Lavrov also said that The Council members wanted to encourage the parties to seize this opportunity to overcome persisting stalemate. They expected that these talks would lead to significant progress in view of the forthcoming renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
Despite progress in implementing the decisions of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro there have been numerous negative developments, the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia, said on Thursday.
Addressing the press at UN headquarters on the upcoming Special Session of the General Assembly which will review the outcome of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, Ambassador Razali said that there had been limited positive progress on the national and local levels in terms of implementing agenda 21. Among positive developments, he noted the universalization of strategies and concept of Agenda 21 and the stabilization of world population.
On the negative side, however, the Assembly President, drew attention to insufficient protection against the excesses of transnational corporations, and the significant decline in the levels of official development assistance provided by donor States to the developing countries.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called for the immediate demobilization of all child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the head of the UN children's agency, Carol Bellamy said that since May 25, when the Armed Revolutionary Council (AFRC) took power in a coup, witnesses had reported seeing hundreds of armed children in the streets of the capital, Freetown. Many of the children, she said, were former child soldiers who had been demobilized during the demobilization programme which started in 1993.
According to UNICEF, Sierra Leone has one of the world's worst records for recruiting child soldiers. "Children should have no part in war. By making them agents of civil conflict and depriving them of their childhood, the vicious cycle of violence is perpetuated", said Ms. Bellamy.
Ms. Bellamy called for the urgent implementation of the proposals outlined in the 1996 Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children prepared by Graca Machel, including the raising of the minimum age of recruitment and participation in armed forces from 15 to 18 years.
East Timor talks got under way at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met briefly with Foreign Ministers of Portugal and Indonesia before chairing the opening of the talks. The UN leader also hosted a lunch in honour of the Foreign Ministers. The talks are expected to continue until Friday with the participation of the Secretary-General's Special Representative for East Timor Ambassador Jamsheed Marker.
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Yasushi Akashi on Thursday expressed his dismay at the tragic deaths of two World Food Programme (WFP) staff members in Rwanda. One staff member was killed on 14 June together with his wife, their child and a relative, and the body of the other one was just recently discovered.
The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator said there was no excuse for such wanton acts to be perpetrated upon humanitarian workers, who devoted their lives to helping the vulnerable. Mr. Akashi extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the staff of the United Nations World Food Programme who, he said, were working diligently in areas of need.
UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Diego Cordovez held a series of meetings with various Ambassadors at UN Headquarters and also briefed the President of the Security Council on the preparations for the forthcoming direct talks between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, a UN spokesman announced on Thursday. The talks will take place from 9 to 13 July in New York at an as yet undisclosed location.
Meanwhile, according to the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of Russia, the Members of the Council reassured the Secretary- General and his Special Adviser of their full support in the efforts on the issue of Cyprus.
The Chairman of the United Nations commission charged with identifying and destroying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has called on the Security Council to react firmly to Iraq's interference with the commission's inspection activities.
Speaking to the press at UN headquarters following a briefing of the Security Council on Wednesday, Rolf Ekeus, Chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), said that Iraq had repeatedly blocked the Commission's inspection team which focused on Iraq's concealment of weapons of mass destruction.
In one incident, Mr. Ekeus said, the team intercepted a professor with "a bunch of papers under his arm" and found documents relating to "very sensitive development and production efforts concerning major biological warfare agents which were not declared before by Iraq".
Mr. Ekeus said that Iraq's actions were a "challenge to the whole cease- fire arrangement and a challenge to the United Nations" which was given the task of monitoring the cease-fire following the Persian Gulf War.
A UN advance team charged with preparing for an investigative mission into allegations of massacres in former Zaire left for Kinshasha on Thursday.
The team is led by the Officer-in-Charge of the Activities and Programmes Branch of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights, Georg Mautner- Markhof and includes human rights officers, forensic experts and security officers with experience in the region.
The role of the advance team is to prepare an investigation to begin its work on 7 July 1997. The investigation is based on an earlier resolution of the Commission on Human Rights which dealt with the situation of human rights in Zaire.
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