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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-10

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


Wednesday, 10 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 asks NGOs to consider his proposal for a People's Millennium Assembly.
  • Delays continue for UN Secretary-General's human rights investigative team in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Security deteriorates in Congo-Brazzaville as diplomatic efforts continue to seek resolution.
  • UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Angola briefs UNITA leader on implications of Security Council sanctions.
  • UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees receives $19 million from donors, averting cuts.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan drew applause today when he asked representatives from non-governmental organizations around the world to consider his proposal for holding a People's Millennium Assembly, which he said could provide an excellent opportunity for cementing the UN-NGO partnership.

In an opening address to the fiftieth annual Department for Public Information (DPI)/NGO Conference, the Secretary-General said partnership between the UN and NGOs was a requirement for effectively addressing the new global agenda. "Non-governmental organizations are now seen as essential partners of the United Nations, not only in mobilizing public opinion, but also in the process of deliberation and policy formulation and, even more important, in the execution of policies, in work on the ground," he said.

General Assembly President Razali Ismail of Malaysia called attention to the complexities and problems surrounding NGO participation in the United Nations system. "The UN, as an international organization, is treated ultimately as a creature of national self-interest where national sovereignty is supreme, however and by whomever that is defined. NGOs only fit into this scheme as entities whose activities have to be regulated and to conform to the broader undertakings and strategies of States." He stressed that, "Whether the UN is to become a winning proposition for the next century will to a large degree depend on the manner in which partnerships are constructed between NGOs, governments and the Secretariat."

Some 2,385 participants representing 637 NGOs from 61 countries around the world are attending the Conference, which runs through Friday.

Delays continue to slow the work of the investigative team dispatched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to examine allegations of past massacres in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to a UN spokesman, the team had hoped to meet today with Etienne Mbaya, the Minister for National Reconstruction and Emergency Relief, who was designated by the Government as the team's liaison. The meeting has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, four members of the team arrived in the Loukelela refugee camp for Rwandans north of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. They are expected to spend three days in the area interviewing witnesses who fled there from the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the offensive which overthrew the Government of the late President Mobutu Sese Seko.

The security situation in Congo-Brazzaville has deteriorated sharply in the past week. Mines are reportedly being laid around the city of Brazzaville, particularly in front of Government buildings, according to a UN spokesman.

Brazzaville continues to be a scene of fighting between the forces of President Pascal Lissouba and former President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in the Great Lakes region, Mohamed Sahnoun, and President Omar Bongo of Gabon are engaged in diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Congo-Brazzaville.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, was in Andulu yesterday meeting with Dr. Jonas Savimbi, leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Mr. Beye explained the implications of the sanctions that the Security Council is set to impose on UNITA if it fails to comply with its obligations under the 1994 Lusaka Protocol by 30 September.

According to a UN spokesman, Dr. Savimbi "expressed frustration at the decision of the international community to impose sanctions but also expressed UNITA's continued commitment to the Lusaka Protocol".

Mr. Beye is expected to meet with the UNITA leadership again before the end of the month to further evaluate the situation.

On 28 August, the Security Council decided to impose travel restrictions on UNITA personnel and adult members of their families, in the absence of compliance with the Lusaka Protocol. Other sanctions put in place would have States seal UNITA offices on their territories and stop their officials from travelling to UNITA headquarters.

The extension of State administration throughout Angola is one of the major pending tasks of the Angolan peace process. According to the spokesman, 40 localities have so far been placed under the administration of the Government, but this does not include several major centres, including those in the diamond mining areas in the Lundas.

Donors at an emergency meeting yesterday in Amman pledged over $19 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The money will spare the Agency from cutting its services and imposing school fees on Palestinian refugee children. In August, UNRWA announced that it was considering the school fees and a freeze on recruiting teachers to help meet a $20 million budget shortfall.

Addressing reporters at UN Headquarters today, UNRWA Representative William Lee said that after four years of budget deficits, the Agency's financial problem had become not only chronic, but structural. "We are not out of the woods -- we can perhaps survive this year but we don't know what the outlook is for the next year," he said.

The meeting with donors in Amman followed weeks of protests over the proposed cuts.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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