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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-26
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 26 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.
All social sectors must cooperate to implement Agenda 21, speakers told the General Assembly on Thursday as it continued its debate on implementation of the recommendations of the 1992 Rio Conference on environment and development. Several speakers noted that worldwide foreign investment had replaced overseas development assistance in amount and frequency. Yet foreign investment was not an appropriate replacement for overseas development assistance. Speakers also called for the institutional setting for sustainable development and global environment to be strengthened.
President William Clinton of the United States has applauded the European Union for its strong focus on the issue of reducing contribution to global climate change. Addressing the special session of the Assembly, President Clinton said "we must all do our part" -- industrial nations that emitted the largest quantities of greenhouse gases and developing nations whose emissions were growing rapidly. As for the United States, he said it was first necessary to convince the American people and the Congress that the climate change problem was real and imminent.
Outlining several initiatives his government had undertaken to deal with climate change and to advance sustainable development, President Clinton announced that in order to help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the United States would provide them with $1 billion in assistance over the next five years. Those funds, he said, would, among other things, go to programmes that supported energy efficiency and the development of alternative energy sources. He also announced that the United States would continue to encourage private investment that met environmental standards, adding that "at home we must unleash more of the creative power of our people to meet the challenge of climate change".
Vice-President of the Dominican Republic, Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, told the special session that in achieving sustainable development, it was important that sustainability be built from the bottom up. The Dominican Vice-President said that without responsible participation among citizens, it would be very difficult to implement a sustainable development process.
Stating that the environment knew no borders, he called for coordinated action by all nations and international organisations to protect nature. "Environmental and natural resources are the main attractions for tourism, which in our country and in other nations of the Caribbean is the most important economic activity for which we require a healthy Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, so that combined efforts are required to avoid polluted waste being dump into their waters", said the Vice President.
Croatia welcomes the increasing regionalization of United Nations activities for the implementation of Agenda 21, which allows to pay closer attention to the specific problems of individual regions, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Ljerka Mintas-Hodak, said in her statement to the special session. At the same time, Croatia stressed the need for recognizing the differences and individual characteristics of states in the sphere of sustainable development.
With regard to the problem of rising pollution levels, the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister stressed that particular responsibility lay with developed countries which caused approximately 80 per cent of the pollution on our planet. "Croatia supports more resolute action consistent with the principle of polluter pays in the establishment of an efficient mechanism for addressing the problem of cross-border pollution and regulating compensation", she said.
The Government of Liechtenstein was ready to shoulder its part of the common responsibility for the integrity of the global environment, development and peace, the Minister of Environment of Liechtenstein told the Assembly. Minister Norbert Marxer stated that even though governments bore the main responsibility for implementing the programme of action, all groups of society must be able to take an active part in the process of promoting sustainable development. He said that since Liechtenstein was dependent on imports for more than 90 per cent of its energy, the country attached the utmost importance to a comprehensive and coherent energy policy. "Energy plays a key role in achieving the economic, social and environmental objective of sustainable development and the supply of energy must be secure and reliable", said Liechtenstein's Minister of Environment.
Nigeria's Minister of State for Works and Housing Alhaji Abdullah Adamu stressed that appreciable efforts had been made at the national level to implement Agenda 21 in some developing countries. However, he said, for the majority of the countries, the current trend towards globalization of the world economy marginalized developing countries in terms of performance of their respective economies. "We believe that the issues of trade and environment, access to the markets of the developed countries, direct foreign investment, access to environmentally sound technologies on concessional and preferential terms, as well as official development assistance, require concerted action by the international community," he said.
Malaysia's Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment Dato' Law Hieng Ding told the special session that the rapid globalization process threatened to overwhelm both environment and developmental goals. Noting that unbridled liberalization and globalization could have negative impacts on sustainable development, the Minister said the goal should be to devise strategies to direct globalization towards economic, social and environmental sustainability. He said that developing countries expected that industrial countries as a whole would adhere to fixed targets of greenhouse gas emission reduction according to a time bound schedule, adding that the credibility of the Climate Change Convention had been diluted by the lack of commitment by some countries.
Progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 has not been as rapid, or as far-reaching as had been hoped, the Administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP) James Gustav Speth told the special session of the Assembly. He said that while there had been gains since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, "we've also failed in many undertakings".
The head of the UN development agency said the continuing deterioration of the environment and the expanding demands to address environmental issues on an international basis underscored the need for a strong international body to facilitate the work of the national environmental authorities at the regional and global levels. He expressed the hope that UNDP's sister agency, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), could be strengthened, to meet these urgent needs.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to the warring factions in Afghanistan to come to their senses and return to the negotiating table immediately. In a report on the situation in Afghanistan released at UN headquarters, the Secretary-General said the prospects for peace were bleak for the immediate future. However, he was determined to pursue a negotiated solution to the Afghan problem since the potential cost of inaction was too high.
Noting that the situation in Afghanistan remained volatile, the Secretary- General said the warring parties seemed bent on resolving their problems through military means rather than through peaceful negotiations. However, he said recent events had proved that the question of Afghanistan was not susceptible to a solution by force. The Secretary-General also called upon the Member States concerned to cease their military support to the warring factions, to address in a more substantive way how best to resolve the Afghan conflict and to coordinate their efforts with the United Nations.
Stressing that communities have a leading role to play in reducing the exposure of young people to drug abuse, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed for urgent action at local, national and international levels to combat the scourge of drugs. The UN leader's appeal came in a statement on the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking observed on 26 June in accordance with a 1990 decision of the General Assembly.
The Secretary-General said the United Nations was working hard to stem the escalating problem of drug abuse. Governments were working through the UN International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and other UN agencies to halt the manufacture of illicit drugs, to prevent smuggling across borders and to tackle all the other complex problems drug abuse entailed.
The need for joint action was also underscored by Executive Director of UNDCP Giorgio Giacomelli who said that his agency was "joining hands" with non-governmental organizations and other interested groups in a rich variety of partnerships. Noting that the drug phenomenon was a threat to every level of society, Mr. Giacomelli urged all segments of society to contribute to the debate on the drug abuse problem at the special session of the General Assembly scheduled for June 1998.
Foreign Minister of Ukraine Hennadiy Udovenko said he would face "a very important assignment" of presiding over the forthcoming session of the General Assembly at a time when the United Nations was undergoing a process of deep reforms.
Speaking at a news conference at UN Headquarters on Thursday, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister expressed gratitude to the Eastern European Group for its unanimous decision last week to recommend his candidacy for the post of the President of the 52nd session of the General Assembly.
The UN Transitional Administrator for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Sirmium (UNTAES) on Thursday asked the Security Council for the extension of the mandate of the mission through January 1998 and the retention of the executive portion of the mandate through October with a review at that time. Speaking to the press following a briefing to the Security Council, Mr. Jacques Klein said an intriguing part of the mission was that with no commonality of doctrine, language and of equipment, the peacekeepers and the civilians were able to forge an enormously successful mission. He said the mission was now at a point where it was faced with the most difficult contract, namely the return of the displaced persons.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council on Thursday began its 1997 substantive session that is expected to be dominated by a debate on measures and policies needed to foster what is called "an enabling environment" for development.
This question will be the main theme of the session's high-level segment, from 2 to 4 July, during which the Council will hold a traditional policy dialogue with heads of multilateral financial and trade institutions of the UN system on important developments in world economy. The participants will have before them a report of the Secretary-General, which says that an enabling environment, in its broadest sense, encompasses "the whole panoply of national and international policies, measures and institutions in the economic, social, legal and political domains that influence or affect the growth or development prospects of a country."
The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, which is the single global disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, decided on Thursday to appoint a Special Coordinator to explore a possible mandate on anti-personnel land mines.
The Conference's Chairwoman, Maria Krasnohorska of Slovakia, said that she hoped the achievement of consensus on that matter -- contained in a formal proposal tabled by Australia -- would lead to the adoption by the Conference of a programme of work. The Conference, which is halfway through its yearly session, had not yet reached agreement on a comprehensive work programme.
A United Nations food agency on Thursday warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone as a result of rampant insecurity.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that the presence of uncontrolled armed men prevented distribution of food to thousands of hungry people in the country. WFP said that over the last four weeks it delivered only 300 tons of food commodities, enough to feed some 10,000 persons for 15 days. "Before the coup, we were delivering an average of 2,500 tons of food per month to more than 350,000 people", said Mohamed Diab, WFP's Country Director for Sierra Leone. He said that the UN food agency had already lost 1,600 metric tons of relief food when three of its stores in Freetown were looted during the 25 May coup.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that social disintegration and conflict provided fertile ground for polio outbreaks. Citing outbreaks in Afghanistan, Albania, Chechnya, former Yugoslavia, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and central Africa, WHO said "the moment national immunisation campaigns drop a gear, the polio virus goes into overdrive". The UN health agency urged accelerated efforts to defeat polio. WHO said that since the launching of its 1988 global polio eradication initiative aimed at ridding the world of poliomyelitis by the year 2000, impressive progress had been made in the eradication of the polio virus.
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