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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-08-27

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


Wednesday, 27 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.


  • Joint Commission urges cooperation between Government of Angola and UNITA on extension of state administration in the country.
  • President of Security Council appeals to Burundi and Tanzania to defuse tensions between them.
  • Security Council calls for an end to the fighting in Brazzaville.
  • Security Council urges Government of Cambodia to facilitate UN's work there.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda hears defence motions on genocide charges.
  • UN Security Council extends terms of three judges on International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia to finish Celebici case.
  • States parties to Biological Weapons Convention will return to allegations of biological warfare against Cuba later this year.
  • UN Development Programme allocates over $1 million for demining programmes in Mozambique.

The Joint Commission which is overseeing the peace process in Angola has welcomed the resumption of the extension of state administration in that country, according to a UN spokesman. However, the Commission insisted that both the Government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) improve their cooperation on the matter.

The Commission drew UNITA's attention to its total absence of cooperation in the Lundas region. The possibility of dispatching a special mission to the town of Cacolo to resolve difficulties that exist in that area is under consideration. In the Joint Commission's view, the level of tension which persists throughout the country has somewhat diminished and the overall situation remains generally calm and stable, according to the UN spokesman.

The Joint Commission is chaired by Alioune Blondin Beye, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola. It includes representatives of both the Government and UNITA.

Security Council President Sir John Weston of the United Kingdom today repeated the Council's appeal to the Governments of Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania to defuse the tension that has grown between the two countries. Burundi has alleged that Tanzania is harbouring armed elements fighting against Burundi government forces.

In a statement to the press following Council consultations, Ambassador Weston expressed concern over the abandonment of the Arusha talks, which were to have taken place on 25 August. He said Council members supported the appeal by the representative of the Secretary- General and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Mohamed Sahnoun, that the two sides, "cool down their rhetoric, stop any escalation of mutual accusation between them, exercise general restraint, and avoid provocation."

Members of the Security Council on today once again deplored the resumption of fighting reported in Brazzaville.

Following consultations on the situation in Brazzaville, Council President John Weston of the United Kingdom called for an immediate end to all acts of violence there. Addressing reporters on behalf of Council members, he said they were very concerned about the reported humanitarian consequences of the fighting in Brazzaville-Congo.

Recalling an agreement for a cease-fire on 14 July, he said Council members urged the parties to respect that cease-fire, adding, "we do not want any of the fighting or violence to spread further outside Brazzaville."

Council members reiterated their full support for the mediation efforts of President Hadj Omar Bongo of Gabon and Mohamed Sahnoun, UN-OAU Representative for the Great Lakes Region. They expressed their support in particular for President Bongo's appeal on Tuesday for a cease-fire and a resumption of negotiations, Ambassador Weston told the press.

He said that while underlining the responsibility of the Congolese parties to end the crisis, Council members recalled the Security Council's decision on the possible deployment of a force once the Secretary-General had presented his report to the Council on the fulfillment of the necessary conditions.

The UN Security Council has emphasized that the Government of Cambodia has a duty to facilitate the work of the United Nations in the country.

Following a briefing by the Secretariat on the situation in that country, Council President John Weston of the United Kingdom told correspondents today that "in our opinion, the Government of Cambodia has a duty to provide the facilities and the wherewithal for the United Nations to be able to carry out its job in Cambodia."

He said that Council members were thinking particularly of the United Nations Human Rights Centre in Cambodia "whose status and whose activities, it seems, have been questioned in some quarters."

Ambassador Weston added that the members of the Security Council were also particularly concerned about the personal security of the staff of the United Nations Human Rights Centre in Cambodia.

It was reported earlier that Second Prime Minister Hun Sen had demanded the replacement of United Nations human rights workers in Cambodia.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda today held hearings on preliminary motions filed by the defence in the case of Ferdinand Nahimana, a former senior representative of Radio and Television Libre des Mille Collines. The defence requested either an acquittal of their client, or at least an amendment to the indictment. Mr. Nahimana's lawyer said the indictment was imprecise and did not allow adequate time to prepare a defence. He further argued that the indictment was flawed and was never properly served to the accused.

The prosecution countered that the indictment was valid and met the requirements set out in the rules of procedure and evidence.

Nahimana is facing charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity. He was arrested in March 1996 and transferred to the Tribunal's detention facility in Arusha in January of this year.

Three judges serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will stay on after their terms of office expire to complete work on the Celebici case. Because they were not re-elected to a second term, the three judges were to stop work on 16 November, but today, the Security Council granted the extensions by unanimously adopting resolution 1126 (1997).

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had told the Presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly that if the terms were not extended, it would be necessary to restart with a new panel of judges and order the rehearings of witnesses and testimonies. "At this stage of the proceedings, this would unnecessarily prolong the trial and violate the right of the accused to due process of law," he said to the two Presidents.

The three judges who had their terms extended today are Adolphus Karibi- Whyte of Nigeria, Elizabeth Odio Benito of Costa Rica and Saad Saood Jan of Pakistan. The trial of the case, which is expected to be completed by November 1998, will cost an estimated $668,480 for one year.

After considering allegations of biological warfare against Cuba, States parties to the Convention on Biological Weapons have decided that they needed more time to consult on the matter. According to a report on their just-concluded meeting in Geneva, interested States parties will submit their observations, including from national and technical experts, to the Chairman of the Conference of the Parties on 27 September. The Chairman will hold consultations and report back to States parties by the end of the year.

The consultations are being held under Article 5 of the Convention on Biological Weapons and a procedure elaborated at the Third Review Conference of the Parties.

The United Nations Development Programme has recently authorized over $1 million for the UN Accelerated Demining Programme in Mozambique, a $9.7 million effort to clear mines, especially from the most fertile parts of the country. The funds will help clear agricultural land and feeder roads for returning refugees, demobilized soldiers and other affected people.

The Chief of UNDP's Southern Africa Bureau, Soloman Akpata, said the proliferation of landmines, "deprives people of land that can be used for development -- in other words, farmers, schools and health centres in difficult areas." In an interview with UN Radio, he stressed that if those areas were not demined, people would not make use of available facilities.

According to UNDP, the widespread presence of mine fields continues to slow down resettlement and peace-building efforts in Mozambique. The new support will help speed the resettlement of marginalized rural groups, replace old demining equipment and improve overall efficiency of demining operations.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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