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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-20

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 20 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.


  • Draft treaty to ban landmines envisages key role for UN Secretary- General.
  • UN Secretary-General urges parties to end hostilities in northwest Cambodia.
  • UN investigative team will travel to Democratic Republic of Congo later this week.
  • UN Emergency Relief Coordinator to review humanitarian situation in Great Lakes region.
  • Comprehensive bibliography on Latin America now available on UN web page.

The proposed treaty banning all anti-personnel landmines, which is being negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament and through the parallel "Ottawa process" involving interested States, envisages a central role for the UN Secretary-General, according to the Director of the UN Centre for Disarmament Affairs. Prvoslav Davinic told reporters today that the draft treaty assigns a number of specific tasks to the Secretary-General. In addition to performing functions which are standard to monitoring treaties, such as serving as a depository of information provided by States parties, the Secretary-General would undertake a number of substantive tasks if draft landmine ban is adopted. These include convening review conferences and meetings of States parties as well as deploying fact-finding missions to verify compliance with the treaty.

Under the provisions of the draft treaty, States parties would be obliged to destroy their stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines within three years. They would undertake to identify all anti-personnel landmines in existence and report their findings to the United Nations. "This is one of the functions that the Secretary-General will have to perform -- to keep track of all these landmines," Mr. Davinic said. The proposed treaty also calls for the destruction of all anti-personnel landmines with a 10-year period.

The Secretary-General, who is fully supportive of the earliest possible conclusion of a treaty banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel land-mines, is "in the forefront of international efforts" to achieve this end, Mr. Davinic said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is deeply concerned about the recent outbreak of fighting in the northwest of Cambodia, according to a spokesman. The Secretary-General strongly urged all parties involved to end their hostilities and desist from any action that would cause a further deterioration of the situation there. He stressed the need for all Cambodian parties to begin working toward the creation of a political climate conducive to holding genuinely free and fair elections in May 1998, in an atmosphere free from intimidation.

The spokesman also conveyed the Secretary-General's sympathy for the plight of some 20,000 Cambodians who have been driven from their homes by the fighting. Commending the Thai Government for granting sanctuary to the refugees, he called on Thailand to extend hospitality to them for as long as necessary, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's investigative team charged with examining allegations of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Democratic Republic of Congo will travel to that country on 23 August. Atsu-Koffi Amega, who heads the team, told reporters in Geneva today that for the past week, the team had heard presentations from concerned UN programmes, humanitarian organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with experience in the region. "We owe it to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo to shed light on the tragic events that have occurred there. The prosperity of the Congolese nation and the future of the observance of human rights depend on it," he said.

Expressing confidence that the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo would cooperate with the team, he said this would allow it to advance the causes of justice, peace and stability.

In addition to Mr. Amega, the team is comprised of Reed Brody and Andrew Chigovera. Initial funding of $2.1 million for its work will be provided through the United Nations regular budget.

Yasushi Akashi, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, leaves today for 10-day trip to the Great Lakes region of Africa to assess the humanitarian situation there, according to a spokesman. After arriving tomorrow in Kenya to meet with personnel from agencies dealing with Somalia and Sudan, Mr. Akashi will travel to Burundi and Rwanda. In meetings with representatives of governments, humanitarian organizations, UN agencies and NGOs, Mr. Akashi will examine the status of access to victims, coordination of humanitarian assistance, and funding for humanitarian programmes.
Some 15,000 bibliographic references concerning Latin America are now available on the UN Home Page on the Internet. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) has just installed its complete bibliographic database, covering documentation from 1948 to the present, on the Internet. In addition to ECLAC publications and documents, the database contains references from the Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning and the Latin American Demographic Centre. Although most materials are in Spanish and English, some are in French.

This information, which has been available on CD-ROM since 1989, can now be accessed through the ECLAC Internet site at or through the UN web page at

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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