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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-03

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 3 September 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 Secretary-General calls anti-personnel landmines "enemy number one," urging Oslo Conference to adopt total ban.
  • Security Council members welcome Congolese Government's cooperation with Secretary-General's investigative team.
  • UN/OAU Envoy will attend regional summit on Burundi.
  • Former Rwandan government Minister pleads not guilty to war crimes charges by International Criminal Tribunal.
  • Security Council plans ministerial meeting on Africa.
  • UN Secretary-General and Algeria's President discuss escalating violence in that country.
  • Secretary-General supports Task Force recommendations on reorienting UN public information activities.
  • Reviewing its last year of work, Iraq sanctions committee reports good working relationship with Iraqi authorities.

Addressing the Diplomatic Conference on Landmines in Oslo, UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan today repeated his pledge of United Nations support for a total ban on those weapons. Like chemical weapons, which were recently banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, landmines should become "a weapon of the past and a symbol of shame," he said.

The Secretary-General recalled that for every 100,000 mines cleared each year, between 2 and 5 million more are laid. "From my experience in peace- keeping, I have seen first-hand -- in all parts of the world -- the literally crippling effects of landmines for peoples and societies alike," he said. "Whether it is the rebuilding of infrastructure, the repair of homes or, most importantly, the return of refugees, landmines are enemy number one."

The Conference's mission held great promise, he said, because universal revulsion at the use of landmines had reached unprecedented levels. Saluting the vision of participants, the Secretary-General closed his remarks by saying, "I look forward to seeing you in Ottawa," - - a reference to the city where the draft treaty is expected to be opened for signature in December.

Members of the Security Council today welcomed the Democratic Republic of the Congo's willingness to cooperate with the investigative team dispatched by the Secretary-General to examine allegations of past massacres.

Following a briefing on the status of the investigation, Council President Bill Richardson of the United States told the press that members of the Council had received preliminary indications that progress had been achieved. "We are pleased that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has agreed to cooperate with the Secretary-General," he said. "Members of the Council express strong hope that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will continue to cooperate fully with the Security Council."

The Joint United Nations/Organization of African Unity (OAU) Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa has travelled to the United Republic of Tanzania to attend a regional summit on the crisis in Burundi, a UN spokesman announced.

UN/OAU Envoy Mohamed Sahnoun will attend the meeting on Thursday, which will bring together Presidents Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Yoweri Musevini of Uganda. The President of Kenya will be represented by Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka. The Secretary- General of the OAU, Salim A. Salim, will also participate in the regional meeting.

The summit is being convened by President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania following the cancellation of scheduled talks in Arusha on 25 August, which failed because Burundi's President, Pierre Buyoya, refused to attend.

Burundi has faced regional economic sanctions since Major Buyoya seized power from President Sylvestre Ngibantungana on 25 July 1996. The country has also been the scene of violent clashes between the government and armed opposition.

A former Minister in the Government of the late President Juvenal Habryarimana of Rwanda has pleaded not guilty to charges filed against her in connection with the 1994 genocide.

According to a Tribunal press release, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the former Minister of Women's Development and Family Welfare, faces charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity, among others. Her son, Arsene Shalome Ntahobari, is also charged with these crimes. He declined to plead to the charges because his assigned counsel was not present, according to a press release issued by the Tribunal today.

The Security Council has made plans to hold a ministerial-level meeting on Africa on 25 September, its President told the press today.

Ambassador Bill Richardson of the United States told reporters that the plan represented a very significant development. "Foreign Ministers, along with the Secretary-General and others, will be discussing development, how to resolve conflicts in Africa, long-term stability and long-term peace- building," he said. "We think this should be the 'month of Africa' in the United Nations, particularly in the Security Council."

The purpose of the session would be to focus on positive developments in Africa, such as the holding of elections, emergence of market economies and the formation of new democracies on the continent, he said.

Extremely concerned about the level of violence in Algeria, Secretary- General Kofi Annan today called the country's President, Liamine Zeroual, to discuss the situation there and continue a dialogue the two had begun at the Harare Summit last May.

In a statement issued through his spokesman, the Secretary-General reiterated the UN's longstanding condemnation of terrorism, and stressed the urgent need to solve the problem. President Zeroual said he was using all democratic means to reach a peaceful settlement. He stressed that Algeria had strong institutions which were capable of leading the country out of the crisis. The President also said that all democratic forces were working with him, and urged others to join in his efforts to bring about national reconciliation.

Although President Zeroual indicated that he would not be able to attend the upcoming session of the General Assembly, he and the Secretary-General agreed to arrange a meeting at the earliest possible opportunity. "The Secretary-General will continue to support all efforts to bring peace to Algeria," his spokesman said.

The Secretary-General concurs with the principal recommendations of the Task Force on the Reorientation of United Nations Public Information Activities, the Assistant Secretary-General for Public Information, Samir Sanbar, told the Committee on Information this afternoon. Among those, the Secretary-General supports consolidating all communications activities under a strong senior official. The post for the communications and information function should be at the level of Under- Secretary-General, reflecting the importance of communications as an integral part of the substantive programme of the United Nations, Mr. Sanbar said.

According to Mr. Sanbar, the Secretary-General also supports the Task Force's recommendation to strengthen the Organization's capacity to communicate at the country level. He further supports completing the process of integrating the United Nations information centres into the offices of UN resident coordinators. To ensure effectiveness, the resident coordinators should work closely with and report to the senior official in charge of UN communications activities.

Mr. Sanbar also conveyed the Secretary-General's support for "creating a culture of communications throughout the Organization, with responsibility for public diplomacy being borne by all senior officials, ambassadors and the larger United Nations family."

"UN communications need a commander-in-chief," Mark Malloch Brown, the World Bank's Vice President of External Affairs/United Nations Affairs and Chairman of the Task Force, told the Committee. "There cannot be fragmentation of communications efforts across different communications vehicles at the United Nations." At the same time, he said, there should be a decentralization of how the message is delivered at the country level. "We saw the central task of a revitalized UN communications function as making the UN relevant again to people's lives, hence this focus on strong national delivery systems, where a global message can be localized in ways which make sense to people," he said.

The Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions regime against Iraq says it has established a "good working relationship with the Iraqi authorities."

According to a new report covering its work over the past year, the committee has worked to expedite the process of approving applications for humanitarian assistance submitted under the "oil-for-food" formula contained in Council resolution 986 (1995). A total of 840 applications to ship goods to Iraq were received under that resolution, 662 of which were approved, totalling approximately $1,139 million.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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