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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-22
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Monday, 22 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.
The UN Secretary-General has told the General Assembly that the world is now living in a new day requiring a new way. The first Secretary-General to speak just prior to the opening of the General Assembly's general debate, Kofi Annan said the current session should be known as the "Reform Assembly". He pledged to implement all reform proposals within his jurisdiction before the end of the year, he called on delegates to move with equal alacrity. "It is my hope that when this session ends more than two months from now, we will have reached consensus and can begin the process of implementation," he said.
The reform process, he noted, would involve partnerships with civil society organizations and the private sector. In this context, he said, "The extraordinarily generous and historically unprecedented gift from Mr. Ted Turner for United Nations work in the development, environment and humanitarian fields is the most visible expression of this new and promising relationship."
Referring to his Annual Report on the work of the Organization, Secretary- General Kofi Annan also outlined the problems and promises of the current era. Calling attention to the fact that globalization has not benefitted the vast majority of developing countries, he said that new paradigms of cooperation were needed, in which major increases in assistance were combined with selective debt relief, access to markets and investment strategies.
On the issue of sustainable development, the Secretary-General said that the General Assembly's June review of the implementation of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development had found little progress. "We must do better at Kyoto in December and secure legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which we know to cause global warming," he said.
Regarding conflicts around the world, he said a breakthrough may be at hand in Western Sahara, but warned of a possible "humanitarian crisis of dreadful proportions" in Afghanistan if the international community fails to act. On the "mounting threats to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process", he called on all sides to take the courageous decisions required to re- establish mutual confidence and rededicate themselves to achieving a lasting peace.
The Foreign Minister of Brazil said on Monday that his country welcomed the United Nations Secretary-General's reform proposals with satisfaction and enthusiasm.
Opening the general debate of the fifty-second session of the General Assembly, Luiz Felipe Lampreia said that the Security Council should be representative of contemporary international realities as it had been in its early years. The Council must be enlarged both in its permanent membership -- to take account of both the industrialized and the developing worlds -- and in its non-permanent membership -- to allow for more frequent participation by interested States.
Brazil, he said, repudiated all discrimination in the conception or assignment of new seats. "We must not create a third or fourth category of members. This would weaken and depreciate the participation of the developing world, and of Latin America in particular, in the reform process and in an enlarged Council." He expressed Brazil's determination to accept the responsibilities of permanent membership in the Security Council if called upon by the international community to do so.
President William J. Clinton of the United States expressed support for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals, telling the General Assembly that, "his blueprint is the right plan for the future".
Regarding unpaid dues of the United States to the United Nations, President Clinton said he had "made it a priority to work with our Congress on comprehensive legislation that would allow us to pay off the bulk of our arrears and assure full financing of America's assessment in the years ahead." At the same time, he said, the United States looked to Member States to adopt a more equitable scale of assessments of United Nations dues.
He also expressed support for expanding the Security Council to give more countries a voice in "the most important work of the United Nations". President Clinton said that peace and security was the first task of the United Nations. Its second core mission "must be to defend and extend universal human rights and to help democracy's remarkable gains endure" including the establishment of a permanent international court to prosecute violations of international humanitarian law. Third, he said, the United Nations had a responsibility to ensure that the global economy created greater wealth, not growing disparities. Stating that today's progress must not come at tomorrow's expense, President Clinton said the international community must seize the opportunity of the Kyoto conference in December to turn back the clock on greenhouse gas emissions.
Pledging full support for Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals, Denmark's Prime Minister told the General Assembly that it should endorse the proposals as a package in the coming weeks. Regarding the decreasing funds for development assistance, he said that "the UN development organizations themselves can partly be blamed for the emerging funding crisis" because all too often they had failed to cooperate. "Major donors have been frustrated to see UN organizations engage in costly competition for funds." The Secretary-General's reform proposals would redress that situation, he said, and called in particular on developing countries to endorse them.
"I am not a billionaire, I am not either probably a millionaire, I am a Prime Minister of my country, and I know the way to go: I know on behalf of my country its obligations," said Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. He also called on all countries to pay their dues in full, on time and without conditions.
Prime Minister Rasmussen likewise called for an expansion of the Security Council as he put it, "in order to enhance its legitimacy". In addition, he said that a permanent international criminal court was needed to punish crimes against humanity, and called for a date to be set for a diplomatic conference in 1998 to discuss this issue.
The Prime Minister of Fiji on Monday called for an equitable and wider representation of non-permanent membership on the Security Council.
Speaking during the Assembly's general debate, Major-General Sitveni Ligamamada Rabuka said that his country continued to advocate that the Security Council should be expanded to achieve an equitable geographical distribution of seats. Regions and subregions should adopt a rotation system, including a prohibition on immediate re-election. He proposed that the Caribbean and the South Pacific region also be represented on the Council.
On the reform of the United Nations, Fiji's Prime Minister said he was pleased that the Secretary-General had identified economic and social affairs as well as development cooperation as core activities of the Organization. The United Nations must play a constructive and catalytic role in facilitating economic growth for sustained development to give developing countries opportunities to create wealth.
The Foreign Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania has warned that many developing countries are not benefitting from the process of liberalization and globalization of the world economy.
Speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said that the twin processes benefited some countries while causing instability and marginalization in others, particularly in the developing world. He called on the World Trade Organization and other related international organizations to adopt specific and concrete measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements.
On the subject of financial flows, the Foreign Minister called on the developed countries to reaffirm their commitments to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product for Official Development Assistance. He added that although there was growth in foreign direct investment, the flows "are going to very few developing countries that are already growing fast, and virtually none is going to the least developed countries." The problem of indebtedness must also be tackled, he said.
Tanzania's Foreign Minister concurred with the Secretary-General's statement that "reform of the United Nations is not an event but a process". He said that emphasis should be placed on strengthening the Organization's economic role. Institutions such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial Development and the United Nations regional commissions, he said, should remain.
In an address to the General Assembly largely focussing on reform of the United Nations, Chile's Foreign Minister said that the Security Council could be expanded by up to 25 seats without impairing its effectiveness as long as the expansion meets the requirements of representing all Member States. "There is a broad base of agreement, which Chile shares, for allowing the entry of Germany and Japan as permanent members of the Security Council. Nevertheless, there is also a conviction that this can take place only in the context of adequate regional representation, including other permanent members from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Chile, he said, supported Secretary-General's proposals aimed at transforming the leadership and management structure of the United Nations in order to enable it to act with greater unity of purpose, coherence and agility. "Reform is not intrinsically an exercise in cutting costs or reducing staff. Its aim is to ensure a real and growing increase in the political effectiveness of the United Nations, from the Security Council and the way in which it deals with and resolves the conflicts in today's world to the Economic and Social Council and the development agencies," said Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza.
While supporting a number of reform proposals, he expressed concern that the recommendation to merge the narcotic drugs and crime prevention commissions could run the risk of reducing the problem of narcotic drugs simply to its criminal dimension, while losing sight of other aspects.
Congratulating the Secretary-General for his dynamic vision for reform, Nicaragua's President, Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo, described how United Nations activities had benefited his country's economy, health, social well-being, education, labour matters and, ultimately, democratic development.
He said that the present structure of the Security Council and the prerogatives of its members corresponded to a bygone era. In its current form, he said, the Council was neither equitable nor democratic.
The President also noted "with great sadness" that 21.5 million people living in the Republic of China were not represented in the General Assembly. The Republic of China had signed the United Nations Charter and observed its principles. "The Republic of China should enjoy equality of participation in the United Nations and its specialized agencies," he said.
Addressing the General Assembly on Monday, the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, stressed the need to bring the United Nations in line with new realities. He said the Secretary-General's proposals for reform must be considered as a package, and called on those present to "be pragmatic, and try to avoid drowning the issue in endless discussions and appeals".
Reform of the Security Council, he said, should allow for enlarging the representation of all regional groups, including that of Eastern Europe. This enlargement should not affect the Council's work. The process of enlargement should not be subject to strict time limits, but a decision on the matter should be taken as soon as possible.
"The future of the world order, of the United Nations and of every country is our common future", he said. "So, while deciding the fate of the United Nations today, we should realize that we are also determining our own destiny."
Joining other world leaders who have expressed support for United Nations reform, the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Monday said that the centrality and sanctity of the United Nations Charter must be preserved in reconfiguring the Organization.
Mohammad Nawaz Sharif warned that the United Nations was on the brink of bankruptcy, but its solvency should not be conditioned on reform. "The reform cannot and must not be victim to the narrow strategic, political and administrative preferences of a chosen few as a means of regaining the Organization's solvency." Reform must take account of the interests of all and must be designed to facilitate the objectives for which the United Nations was created, namely to promote global peace, security, cooperation and prosperity.
On the restructuring of the Security Council, he spoke out against what he described as the "legitimization and enlargement of the privileged club of veto powers" which, he said, "would deal a crippling body blow to the ability of the United Nations to carry out its responsibilities". In today's multipolar world, he said, if great power rivalries were to resume, the proliferation of the veto would "once again freeze the Security Council into irrelevance".
Addressing the General Assembly on Monday, the Foreign Minister of Norway called on all States to ratify the anti-landmine convention. "We all have a strong moral obligation to increase our efforts to reduce the suffering and prevent new casualties caused by landmines," he said. He announced Norway's intention to provide $100 million over a five-year period for mine clearance and assistance to victims.
Norway, he said, warmly welcomed and fully supported the Secretary- General's reform proposals and pledged to work for their full implementation. As a country where one in 100 people had participated in peace-keeping operations, Norway, he told delegates, wanted to make sure that its contribution was put to good use.
According to the Foreign Minister, the Security Council must be made more representative and better reflect changes in political and economic realities. Norway wanted new permanent seats for Germany and Japan, and for the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the same time, a limited number of non-permanent seats should be added, he said. Financial reform was also needed. He stated that the non-payment of dues by some Member States could not be accepted. "How can those of us who always make a point of paying in full and on time, without conditions, expect our citizens to continue financing free riders?" he asked.
South African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo has proposed that Africa be allocated two permanent and five non-permanent seats on an expanded Security Council.
Addressing the General Assembly on Monday, Mr. Nzo said that restructuring the Security Council to redress imbalances was central to modernizing the United Nations. "Permanent membership without the veto represents merely a symbolic gesture to new permanent members which would serve to perpetuate an unjust and discriminatory practice and accord them an inferior status", he said, adding that there should be no partial or selective expansion in the Council's membership to the detriment of developing countries.
Recalling that last year South Africa had been disappointed with the slow pace of the debate on Security Council reform, he said that the time had come to agree on measures which would lead to the creation of a Security Council "which is transparent, democratic, accountable and thus credible and legitimate."
The Czech Republic's Foreign Minister on Monday hailed the Secretary- General's reform efforts. "We support both the measures he has already taken to make the work of the United Nations Secretariat more effective, and the package of recommendations he has submitted to the General Assembly last July," Josef Zieleniec told the General Assembly.
Regarding reform of the Security Council, he said that the Czech Republic preferred the expansion of both categories of members -- permanent and non- permanent -- while preserving the Council's effectiveness and flexibility. "We continue to support an increase in the number of permanent members by Germany, Japan and three other countries representing Africa, Asia and Latin America," he said, adding, "My country also advocates expansion of the category of non-permanent seats, including one for the Eastern European Group of States."
The Czech Republic's Foreign Minister also said it was "unthinkable to restructure the United Nations without changing its present system of financing". He called for a new system of contributions to the regular budget and to peacekeeping operations which would reflect the real economic capacity of individual Member States. "All Member States without exception should also duly comply with their financial obligations," he said.
The Foreign Minister of Georgia has called for a review of the United Nations Charter.
Speaking in the General Assembly on Monday, Irakli Menagarishvili said that the Charter focused on interstate conflicts, and had thus "spawned an inadequate reaction on the part of the United Nations to such challenges as conflicts occurring within States." The Charter, he said, "requires a serious review and adjustment to existing realities".
The Foreign Minister of Georgia said that attention must be focused on the optimal reallocation of authority between the General Assembly and the Security Council. He confirmed his country's support for the inclusion of Germany and Japan among the permanent members of the Security Council, and called for enlarging the Council to include one seat for Eastern Europe.
The Foreign Minister of Iran has called on the General Assembly to establish working groups to examine the Secretary-General's reform proposals.
In his address to the Assembly's general debate, Kamal Kharrazi said that the scope and implications of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposed reforms required thorough consideration in working groups.
Stating that the current membership of the Security Council was far from today's realities, Iran's Foreign Minister said any increase in membership would have to take account of the concerns of developing countries, with equitable representation for all regions.
According to a UN Spokesman, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye has reported that some progress has been made in the Angolan peace process, but the possibility of a resumption of war has not completely vanished.
The spokesman said that there had been some progress in the extension of state administration, with 53 new locations having been placed under the Angolan State since August, bringing the total to 70. However, some diamond mining areas and Mavinga had not yet been placed under the Government of National Unity.
On the demobilization of soldiers, the spokesman said that although more than 3,000 fighters of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) had been registered and disarmed since August, more soldiers needed to be brought in.
Progress was also reported on the transformation of UNITA's Radio Vorgan, which was reported to have stopped broadcasting hostile propaganda.
Gustave Feissel, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary- General and Chief of the United Nations Operation in Cyprus, will meet with leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to discuss security matters on Friday 26 September, a UN spokesman told reporters on Monday.
The leaders of the two communities will meet "without preconditions and without an agenda" alone with Mr. Feissel at his residence. In the meantime, the spokesman said, they will refrain from making any public statements about the scope and possible content of their discussions.
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