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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-13

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 13 August 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.


  • Security Council calls on parties to halt fighting in Congo- Brazzaville.
  • In Finland, Secretary-General says UN faces new challenges in human rights arena.
  • UN/OAU Envoy sees progress in talks among parties to the conflict in the Republic of Congo.
  • UN human rights expert on Burundi expresses concern over execution of death-row prisoners.
  • Former commander of Rwandese army detained in Arusha by International Criminal Court.
  • UN Health agency says diseases caused by contaminated food are more widespread than previously thought.

Expressing grave concern at the recurrence of fighting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, the Security Council today called on the parties to resolve the crisis based on proposals submitted by the President of Gabon, including agreement on an interim government of national unity and a timetable for the holding of presidential elections.

In a statement read out by Council President Sir John Weston of the United Kingdom, the Council expressed the view that the conditions set by the Secretary-General for the deployment of an appropriate force to Brazzaville have not yet been fulfilled, and called upon the parties to fulfil those conditions without delay. That would require complete adherence to an agreed and viable ceasefire, agreement to international control of the Brazzaville airport, and a clear commitment to a negotiated settlement covering all political and military aspects of the crisis.

Expressing particular concern at the plight of civilians caught up in the fighting, the Council also called on both parties to respect international humanitarian law and to ensure safe and unimpeded access by international humanitarian organizations to those in need of assistance.

Addressing the Foreign Affairs Institute of the Paasiviki Association in Helsinki, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that despite progress achieved by the United Nations in the field of human rights since the end of the cold war, the need to protect victims of violations has not diminished due to the global upsurge in political movements based on the assertion of ethnic, religious or linguistic identity which can give rise to abuses of human rights.

During his official visit to Finland, the Secretary-General said that since the United Nations faced new and heightened responsibilities in the field of human rights, it required an effective, coherent, and well-resourced human rights machinery. Human rights should be fully integrated into all of the work of the United Nations, and coordinated with regional organizations and non-governmental organizations. "The struggle for peace is the struggle for human rights, and against racism, genocide and repression," he said.

While in Finland, the Secretary-General met with President Martti Ahtisaari. Their discussions focused on reform of the United Nations. He also met Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, Defence Minister Anneli Taina and the Chief of Defence of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Gustav Hagglund.

The Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for the Great Lakes region, Mohammed Sahnoun, told United Nations Radio in Geneva that the parties to the conflict in Congo- Brazzaville have agreed to postpone presidential elections. Under a compromise agreement, "the current president will remain president after the end of his mandate at the end of this month, while the prime minister will be appointed by consensus -- that is with the concurrence of the opposition," he said.

He further cautioned that the compromise "needs now to be substantiated by the people who should be selected to head the government and to hold the most important portfolios." Negotiations on those matters are currently underway, he added.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burundi has expressed deep concern over the announcement that six persons condemned to death in the country were executed on 31 July. Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said earlier this week that the executions were especially serious since the condemned had not been provided with any of the judicial guarantees they were entitled to.

He noted that in the 150 cases examined by the three criminal chambers of Burundi, 89 death sentences had been handed down, although none of the accused had benefitted from the assistance of a legal adviser or lawyer during their trials. The human rights expert invited the Government of Burundi to cease the execution of persons sentenced to death as long as those conditions persisted.

Lieutenant Samuel Manishimwe, a former commander of the Rwandese army in Cyangugu prefecture during the 1994 genocide, was arrested yesterday in Mombasa, Kenya and transferred to the Tribunal's detention facilities in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania following a request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Lieutenant Manishimwe is suspected of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of the Geneva conventions when he was an army commander. His arrest brings to 21 the number of suspects and accused persons currently being detained in Arusha.

Hundreds of millions of people suffer from foodborne illnesses worldwide, and only a fraction of those cases are reported, according to the WHO's World Health Statistics Quarterly. The report found that contaminated food is partially responsible for 1.5 billion cases of diarrhoea in young children each year.

Developing countries suffer the highest rates of foodborne illnesses like cholera, salmonella and E-coli infections, but these diseases are also on the rise in a number of developed countries. Besides causing human suffering, foodborne illnesses take a substantial economic toll, according to WHO. For example, when cholera broke out in Peru in 1991, over $700 million was lost in fish exports. The country lost another $70 million because food establishments had to close and tourism declined.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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