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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-20

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Friday, 20 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 General Assembly adopts Agenda for Development.
  • Secretary-General says agencies such as UNICEF will not lose autonomy as a result of reforms; head of UNICEF welcomes the announcement.
  • Unresolved issues remain on the eve of General Assembly special session to review implementation of Agenda 21.
  • Italian Senator appointed to head UN Vienna Office and the UN Drug Control Programme.
  • Two-day series of "intensive, frank and constructive" talks on East Timor concludes at UN Headquarters.
  • Appeals for assistance to displaced persons mark observance of Africa Refugee Day.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees condemns the killing of a staff member in Rwanda.
  • Security Council committee says sanctions regime applies to Iraq's debts predating Persian Gulf crisis.

In a move that was described as one of the best attempts in the recent past to tackle issues of international cooperation for development, the General Assembly on Friday adopted the Agenda for Development. The document provides a framework on principles, objectives, measures and actions to guide Member States in addressing development issues at national and international levels in the medium and long-term. Building on the outcome of recent United Nations conferences and other relevant agreements, the Agenda was prepared by an open-ended ad hoc working group established by the General Assembly in early 1995.

Welcoming the adoption of the Agenda, the Permanent Representative of Tanzania, Ambassador Daudi Mwakawago, said that in order to implement the Agenda most effectively, political commitment was a critical requirement. Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, he told the Assembly that "all major political-economic- social-cultural problems of the world can be tackled meaningfully when development is fully addressed by both developed and developing countries as guided by this Agenda for Development".

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ambassador Nicolaas Biegman of the Netherlands welcomed the adoption of the Agenda, emphasising the strategic importance of achieving an agreement on it. In part, he said, the Agenda reflected in an integrated and consolidated manner development issues in a global context that had changed dramatically in recent years.

The Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday denied reports that in the process of reform, such United Nations entities as UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) may lose their autonomous status.

Noting that such reports left an "erroneous impression", Spokesman Fred Eckhard said the Secretary-General wanted to clarify that the distinctive roles and contributions of such organizations were highly valued and would be retained. The essence of the reform proposals would be to ensure that the effectiveness of humanitarian and development programmes under UN auspices was strengthened and made more efficient, stressed the Spokesman.

In a quick reaction to the announcement, Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, said on Friday that she "welcomed whole-heartedly" the assurances of the Secretary-General that UNICEF would retain its autonomy. The head of the UN children's agency said she knew of Mr. Annan's long-term commitment to UNICEF and was grateful for the clarification that UNICEF's distinctive contribution would be maintained.

Agreement has been reached on many priorities but several key issues remain unresolved before the start of the General Assembly special session to review implementation of Agenda 21, Derek Osborn (United Kingdom), Co- Chairman of the Inter-sessional Working Group told a news conference at UN Headquarters on Friday.

With the special session, known as Earth Summit + 5, set to open on 23 June, Mr. Osborn said there were "a few key issues on which agreement has eluded us so far, on which we need some political help to guide us next week". The political participation, he said, was necessary to help resolve these outstanding problems and also to give the political impetus and drive for carrying the whole process forward with renewed vigour in the years ahead.

Over 50 Heads of State and Government, 80 ministers and other senior government officials will face those challenges during the five-day session, to be held from 23 to 27 June. The special session will consider for adoption a three-part document as its proposed outcome. It is also expected to consider a political statement which is still being negotiated.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Senator Pino Arlacchi of Italy as Under-Secretary-General, Director General of the United Nations Office at Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). The appointment takes effect in September 1997.

Announcing the appointment, a spokesman for the Secretary-General said it was an integral part of the Secretary-General's effort to strengthen United Nations capacity to address in a coherent and systematic way threats from drug trafficking, money laundering, international terrorism and other international crimes.

In the view of the UN leader, Senator Arlacchi brought with him strong academic, legislative and executive credentials and a lifelong commitment to the struggle against transnational organized crime, spanning national as well as international arenas.

A two-day series of talks on East Timor ended at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.

In a statement released at the conclusion of the talks, the UN Secretary- General's Personal Representative for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, described the discussions as "intensive, frank and constructive". UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who held meetings with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and Portugal, Mr. Ali Alatas and Mr. Jaime Gama, expressed his thanks to the two Ministers for their presence in New York and for the constructive and cooperative spirit in which discussions had been conducted.

It was agreed that the discussions would continue at the working level under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for East Timor. The first meeting is scheduled to take place beginning on 28 July 1997. Both sides had agreed that the discussions would be kept confidential.

It was also decided that the All-Inclusive Intra-East Timorese Dialogue would continue, with every effort made to hold the next meeting in August 1997.

The Security Council Committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq said that commercial debts incurred by Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf crisis should still be settled, according to Council resolutions setting forth the sanctions regime.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the sanctions Committee said it had recently received a number of requests from Member States to settle Iraq's commercial debts predating the Persian Gulf crisis through the importation of goods originating in Iraq. The Committee said it was not able to accede to these requests on grounds that such transactions were inconsistent with provisions of Security Council resolutions on sanctions against Iraq.

The Committee noted that while the sanctions regime did not exonerate Iraq from its debts and obligations incurred prior to the Persian Gulf crisis, issues related to those matters should still be settled within the framework of relevant Council resolutions.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday called on the African people and their leaders to continue to offer refugees a safe haven as long as they could not return home in peace.

In a message on the occasion of Africa Refugee Day on 20 June, Mrs. Sadako Ogata appealed to the Africans to preserve the institution of asylum, for the almost 6 million refugees, in accordance with the 1974 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention governing the special aspects of refugees.

Describing their plight as "an extremely dire one", Mrs. Ogata said the refugees and people who had to flee within their own countries had not only gone through the trauma of leaving everything behind, but also found more and more obstacles on their way to safety abroad.

The head of the UN refugee agency added, however, that her message on this year's Africa Refugee Day, under the theme "Together in the Search of Solutions", was not only a message of worry but also of promise and hope. Many positive developments had occurred on the continent, including progress toward respect for human rights, democratic forms of governance, the battle against poverty, and the growth of civil society, Mrs. Ogata said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata has strongly condemned the killing of a UNHCR driver, his wife and two children in northwestern Rwanda.

According to UNHCR, unknown gunmen killed the driver and his family on Thursday night by spraying gunfire from a window into the house located seven kilometres outside Ruhengeri. The killing happened as the refugee agency was attempting to relocate 15 local staff members living in nearby communes to Ruhengeri town as a security precaution.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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