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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-25
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 25 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.
Meeting at the level of Foreign Minister for the third time in its 52-year history, the Security Council on Thursday adopted a presidential statement on the need for a concerted international effort to promote peace and security in Africa.
The statement, read on behalf of the Council members by the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright, in her capacity as Council President, noted that African States had made significant strides towards democratization, economic reform and respect for protection of human rights. "Despite these positive developments", the statement said, "the Security Council remains gravely concerned by the number and intensity of armed conflicts on the continent." According to the statement, such conflicts threatened regional peace, caused massive human dislocation and suffering, perpetuated instability and diverted resources from long-term development.
The Council welcomed the important contributions of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and looked forward to a stronger partnership between the United Nations and the OAU. It expressed support for enhancing the capacity of African States to contribute to peacekeeping operations.
The Council also requested United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report to it next February on the sources of conflict in Africa, ways to prevent and address those conflicts, and how to lay the foundation for a durable peace and economic growth once they are resolved.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that Africa had turned an important corner, which had resulted in a shift of perceptions. "There is a new consensus that the primary responsibility for the solution of Africa's problems rests with Africans themselves." That new realization also called for a re-evaluation of the role of the international community in support of Africa's goals. "We -- and I speak not only of this Council but of the United Nations and the international community generally -- must respond promptly and effectively to Africa's call."
"We in the Organization of African Unity place a premium on the establishment and maintenance of peace and security," said President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the current OAU Chairman. "Conversely, we strongly believe that the peace and security we so ardently seek to achieve cannot be attained in conditions of abject poverty as is prevalent in Africa today."
President Mugabe said that out of sub-Saharan Africa's population of 500 million people, about 262 million lived on less than $1 per day; 290 million were illiterate; 200 had no access to health services; and 274 million had no access to safe water." "Clearly we are not talking of poverty merely as a case of relative social deprivation. This is absolute poverty." Such damning and distressing statistics called into question the credibility of international cooperation. "What Africa is asking for is not charity, but a new partnership which is mutually beneficial," he concluded.
The Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim A. Salim, agreed that the issues of peace and security and the problems of economic development should be addressed simultaneously. Noting that Africa was deeply engaged in difficult political and socio-economic reforms, he said, "it is our sincere hope and expectation that the symbolic and political manifestation of interest and concern inherent in the holding of this special ministerial session of the Security Council will be followed up by a more active and committed involvement of the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole in dealing with African problems, especially those relating to peace, security and stability."
Statements were also made by the Foreign Minister of Chile, Jose Miguel Insulza; China's Vice-Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Qian Qichen; the Minister for External Relations and Worship of Costa Rica, Fernando Naranjo-Villalobos; and the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Amre Moussa.
The Foreign Minister of France, Hubert Vedrine, also spoke; as did the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Guinea-Bissau, Delfim da Silva; the Foreign Minister of Japan, Keizo Obuchi; the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Kenya, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka; and the Foreign Minister of Poland, Dariusz Rosati.
Also speaking were the Foreign Minister of Portugal, Jaime Gama; the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Chong Ha Yoo; the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Yevgeny M. Primakov; and the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Lena Hjelm-Wallen. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom, Robin Cook, and Mrs. Albright, in her capacity as Secretary of State of the United States, also made statements.
The Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council on Thursday reaffirmed their support for Security Council reform through the enlargement of its membership.
In a statement issued following their meeting with United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan, the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States also expressed support for additional steps to strengthen the effectiveness of the Council and to increase the transparency and efficiency of its work.
Welcoming the momentum in favour of substantial United Nations reform, the Ministers said they considered the Secretary-General's proposed reforms opportune. They also reiterated their commitment to participate actively in the General Assembly's debate so that reform efforts could be advanced in a timely manner.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) has not yet fully complied with its obligations in the Angolan peace process.
In a report to the Security Council published on Thursday, the Secretary- General says that some progress has been made in the demilitarization of UNITA, the extension of State administration to certain areas previously under UNITA control, and the transformation of UNITA's Radio Vorgan. But, the Secretary-General says, he is not yet in a position to advise the Security Council that UNITA has taken the necessary steps required by the Council to avoid sanctions.
According to the Secretary-General, the figure of 6,052 troops which UNITA claims it has is unconvincing. Furthermore, he said, no progress has been registered in the extension of Government authority to the five strategically important areas of Angola still under UNITA control.
In August the Security Council set the deadline of the end of September for sanctions against UNITA to take effect unless the Secretary-General reported that UNITA had taken concrete and irreversible steps to comply with all of its obligations under the 1994 Lusaka Protocol.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, on Wednesday met with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi. According to a UN spokesman, Dr. Savimbi assured Mr. Beye that serious efforts would be made to respond to the Security Council's demands to avoid sanctions.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) proceed with the implementation of a stalled United Nations plan to resolve the dispute between Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Sagu”a el- Hamra y del R”o de Oro (POLISARIO) over the territory. Under the plan, the people of Western Sahara are to decide, through a referendum, between independence and incorporation into Morocco.
According to a report to the Security Council released on Thursday, the Secretary-General says recent agreements reached between the parties at talks facilitated by his Special Envoy, James Baker III, have resolved the main contentious issues that had impeded implementation of the plan. "These achievements create the conditions to proceed towards the full implementation of the settlement plan, starting with the resumption of the identification process. I believe that MINURSO should be provided with the resources to do so on an urgent basis, in order to build on the current momentum."
The Secretary-General recommends that MINURSO's mandate, set to expire on 30 September, be renewed until 20 October to allow members of the Security Council to consult on the proposed expansion of MINURSO to carry out the referendum. He further recommends that the mandate of MINURSO be extended after that date for a further six months, until 20 April 1998.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries to consider his reforms as a package as early as possible.
In remarks to the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in New York on Thursday, the Secretary-General called for a political response to his package. A reformed United Nations, Mr. Annan said, "will restore the General Assembly to its proper role as the democratic, universal expression of global demands."
The United Nations, he added, will tackle more effectively the ills one nation could not defeat on its own: the degradation of the environment; the trade in arms and illegal drugs; transnational crime; and the plague of disease and malnutrition.
Above all, the Secretary-General said, the United Nations would serve the cause of development, which he described as "the crucible of all that we do and all that we seek."
Zdenka Kramplova, the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, has said that cost saving must not be the final goal of United Nations reform, "since this approach itself does not lead to the strengthening of the Untied Nations system."
She stressed that reform efforts must address financing of the United Nations, since the financial crisis had a grave impact on the Organization's performance. "We believe the principle of honouring the legal obligations, in this case the payment of assessed contributions, should be a basis for any solution to be adopted," she said. Slovakia had paid its dues in full and on time this year.
Small and medium-sized countries were capable of bearing responsibility for stability and security in the world, she said. "In this connection, the Government of the Slovak Republic has decided to present its candidature for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the term 2000-2001." Regarding Security Council reform, she said Slovakia preferred that the matter be discussed thoroughly, without "an artificial acceleration of the whole process."
The Prime Minister of Jamaica on Thursday said that his country supported expanding the Security Council to make it more representative.
Addressing the General Assembly, Percival J. Patterson said that the Security Council was vital to the work of the United Nations and must command international confidence if it was to be effective. While recognizing that there were important and delicate issues at stake, Prime Minister Patterson said "the process should not be mired in endless debate".
The Jamaican Prime Minister also expressed support for the Secretary- General's measures to make the management of the Untied Nations more efficient. Joining others in stressing that reform should not be about cost- cutting, he said "reform is not about doing less, it is about doing better".
The Foreign Minister of Peru said on Thursday that no reform of the United Nations would succeed without the necessary financial resources. "Peru is of the view that contributions to the regular budget are a legal obligation that should be fully and timely discharged." If States in arrears did not clear their indebtedness without conditions, he said, it would be impossible to earmark resources for essential activities such as the eradication of poverty.
Reform of the United Nations, he reiterated must aim to make it more efficient and better able to adapt to the needs of the international community.
Noting that the Assembly had been working for four years on the reform of the Security Council, he said that a decision should be taken on negotiating the matter. Peru believed that it was necessary to make the Council more representative, to enhance its legitimacy, to give it greater transparency, and to take the first steps towards abolishing the veto through strict limits on its use. He added that Peru supported an increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent Council members.
Expressing support for the reform proposals put forward by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Foreign Minister of Croatia said, "The 'silent revolution' advocated by the Secretary-General is truly revolutionary for the United Nations and demands thorough discussion."
Croatia advocated the need to increase the number of both permanent and non- permanent Security Council members, Mate Granic told the General Assembly on Thursday. "Half a century old stereotypes ought to be phased out." Croatia supported granting permanent membership for Germany and Japan, as well as other parts of the world such as Africa. Eastern Europe should also have one more seat.
Regarding the human rights situation in his country, he said there were many outstanding issues "largely stemming from the war of aggression waged against Croatia". Croatia was cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia within its obligations as defined in international law and relevant resolutions. "However, Croatia cannot be totally satisfied with the work of the Hague Tribunal to date." The Court's ethnic composition did not yet properly reflect the nature and extent of war crimes committed, he said. Further, he charged that "by issuing subpoena to States and their high officials, the Tribunal has acted beyond its own Statute and international law".
The Foreign Minister of Italy has warned against the creation of four categories of United Nations Security Council members through proposed reforms.
Lamberto Dini told the General Assembly that the four categories would be the first-class permanent members with veto power; the second- class new permanent members from industrialized countries, which would be without veto power; the third-class "pseudo-permanent" rotating members without veto power from developing countries; and the fourth- class would be the overwhelming majority of Member States with little chance to ever serve on the Council as rotating members with no veto power. Such a stratification of membership "reminiscent of the caste system in ancient empires" would defy the fundamental principles of logic and democracy, and would marginalize some of the countries most active in the United Nations.
The Foreign Minister said that the problem of different categories of members would be avoided through an Italian proposal to increase only the number of non-permanent members, who would be democratically elected in the General Assembly. He added that there should be no link between the contributions of Member States and Security Council reform "lest the impression be created that permanent seats are up for sale".
"We welcome the Secretary-General's report on a programme for reform and we assure him of our confidence and support in achieving its objectives," Romania's Foreign Minister, Adrian Severin, said on Thursday.
In a statement to the General Assembly, he said reform should not be a cost- cutting exercise, but rather a matter of strengthening the role of the Organization as an active and efficient world forum. "Our objective is to make the United Nations more efficient, more transparent, more responsible and last but not least more credible," he added.
With regard to administrative and budgetary questions, he said that Romania favoured the proposals of the Secretary-General for the 1998 - 1999 budget "with the understanding that the reductions will not affect the future capacity of the Organization to fulfil its mandate". It was important to reach, by open and constructive negotiations, feasible solutions with regard to the future payments of arrears and a new scale of assessments of United Nations dues.
The Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday call on Member States to give the United Nations the political, financial and moral support that would enable it to respond to emerging global needs.
Having studied the Secretary-General's report on reform, he said he welcomed in principle its recommendations and proposals. He stressed that any reforms must reflect the needs of the Member States, particularly the aspirations of developing countries seeking to attain sustainable development and economic growth.
The United Arab Emirates supported efforts aimed at enlarging and restructuring the Security Council and improving its rules of procedure with a view to ensuring equitable geographical representation. A reformed Council, he said, must act with objectivity. That would prevent a recurrence of the past practice of imposing double standards which had "proved dangerous" to the Council's approach to many peace and security issues.
President Fabi n Alarc¢n Rivera of Ecuador on Thursday said that reform of the Security Council could not be limited to a simple discussion of the number of its seats.
The President said Ecuador agreed with the proposed increase in the number of Council members to reflect new world realities, with a more significant presence of developing countries under an equitable geographical distribution of seats. He added, however, that real Council reform should ensure that decision-making mechanisms and processes "are endowed with the transparency, effectiveness and pluralism that characterizes every democratic institution.
The leader of Ecuador added that the reform should include, among other elements, a limitation of the veto power, as well as a more timely response to Member States' requests for intervention to prevent conflicts.
The President of Colombia on Thursday called for the abolition of the veto power in the Security Council.
In his address to the General Assembly, Ernesto Samper Pizano described the veto as "undemocratic, since it places in the hands of one country the possibility of not recognizing the will of the majority". If the veto could not be eliminated, he added, it should be restructured to those matters truly fundamental to world security.
The President of Colombia also said that the proposed strengthening of the Council could not take place at the expense of the General Assembly, which he characterized as "the highest democratic authority of the system." Any expansion of the Council, President Samper added, must take into account the needs of developing countries for greater representation. "We do not want the United Nations divided between rich and poor, with first and second-class members according to their contributions." The United Nations was not a private company, he added, but a forum for world solidarity.
The Colombian President said that in the view of the Movement of Non- Aligned Countries which he represented, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals would be positive for the revitalization of the United Nations.
Austria fully endorses the Secretary-General's proposals for United Nations reform, the country's Foreign Minister told the General Assembly on Thursday.
Wolfgang Schssel said reform should emphasize streamlining the Organization's management structure; consolidating the United Nations presence in the field; bringing development back to the centre of United Nations activities; and strengthening the human rights components in all aspects of United Nations work. Without adequate resources, however, the United Nations would not succeed in carrying out its tasks. The Foreign Minister warned that as long as Member States did not fully honour their obligations, the Organization's financial situation would remain critical. "Needless to say, unilateral decisions are unacceptable in the framework of multilateral cooperation."
He said that the fight against drugs and organized crime must receive priority international attention. Austria would cooperate closely with the new Director General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Pino Arlacchi. To demonstrate its support, he said, Austria would make a significant financial contribution to the United Nations Crime Prevention Trust Fund.
The Prime Minister of Morocco has underlined the need for United Nations reforms to help solve the economic and social problems faced by developing countries.
As the General Assembly continued its general debate, Prime Minister Abdellatif Filali said that Morocco firmly believed that reform of the United Nations should take into account the priorities and interests of developing countries, "especially the settlement of their economic and social problems through the provision of the required material and technical means".
On the proposed restructuring of the Security Council, Morocco's Prime Minister joined others in calling for a balanced and equitable representation of all continents. In light of the changing world situation, he said it was necessary to "reconsider the composition and the role of the Security Council so that it may become an effective instrument which is not subjected to interests and considerations which are not consistent with the United Nations Charter".
The Foreign Minister of Guyana has welcomed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's priority attention to development in the future work of a reformed United Nations.
Clement Rohee told the General Assembly on Thursday that strategies must be developed to eradicate world poverty and restore economic and social prosperity, particularly in small and developing countries. Reiterating the need for "a more integrated and collaborative approach", Mr. Rohee said that greater coordination of development activities was essential. The Secretary-General's proposal to create a United Nations development group would be a welcome step towards that end.
On the expansion of the Security Council, the Foreign Minister of Guyana noted that no general agreement had been found yet on the issue. "We must persevere, however, in the fulfilment of our mandate to devise a more effective, open and representative Council, capable of performing the functions assigned to its under the Charter." Guyana believed that restructuring the Council could best be achieved by expanding the number of non-permanent members. That, in the spirit of compromise, it would consider an enlargement in the number of permanent members provided a balance could be found between the representation of developed and developing country.
Canada's Foreign Minister on Thursday pledged strong support for the Secretary-General's "serious and far-sighted" proposed reforms.
In a statement to the General Assembly, Lloyd Axworthy said the proposed reforms promised not simply greater efficiency, but also greater effectiveness. He added that "budget-cutting itself is not the answer".
The Canadian Foreign Minister also expressed strong support for the establishment of an international criminal court. He said that in order to be effective, the proposed court must have inherent jurisdiction over the core crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In order to be independent, the court must not be precluded from dealing with matters on the Security Council's agenda, he added.
The Foreign Minister of Ireland on Thursday appealed to the General Assembly to reach consensus on the Secretary-General's proposed reforms.
"The Secretary-General has recognized that the future of the Untied Nations can be secured only by a clearer focus and better coordination of effort, expertise and resource on key priorities -- real peace and security, sustainable development, equitable economic and social progress, humanitarian action and, underlying all these, the safeguarding of universal human rights", Ray Burke told the General Assembly.
He also called for the Assembly to achieve a solution to the difficult question of United Nations financing. Attention must also be paid to the enlargement and working methods of the Security Council. Announcing that Ireland had declared its candidacy for the Security Council in the year 2000, he said, "we shall do everything possible to earn your support".
The Foreign Minister of Belgium on Thursday called for limiting the veto power of the Security Council's permanent member, which he said was incompatible with the general interests of Member States.
Erik Derycke joined other world leaders in calling for restructuring the Security Council by increasing the number of both the permanent and non- permanent members in order to achieve greater representation of all regions and enhanced efficiency. He added that it should be possible to modify the Council's decision-making so that it would be possible to avoid recourse to "this obsolete instrument" of the veto.
A reformed United Nations, Mr. Derycke said, should be better able to meet global challenges and strengthen its ties with regional organizations, not only in the political field but also in the social and economic sector. "It will not be possible to make our world more humane without a common effort of all international organizations to support an overall approach." He welcomed the Secretary-General's proposals for reform, particularly the special attention he devoted to development.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS on Thursday warned against the danger of testing an AIDS vaccine on human subjects.
Reacting to an announcement that volunteers in the United States were proposing to test the live attenuated vaccine on themselves, UNAIDS said that while that move was a courageous one, it was also potentially dangerous.
Members of the Chicago, United States-based International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care are volunteering to test the vaccine, which has been experimentally successful in protecting monkeys from the simian forms of AIDS. UNAIDS points out, however, that unlike in the case of other current candidate AIDS vaccines, there was no guarantee that people taking the attenuated vaccine would not get AIDS from it.
With 8,500 HIV infections every day worldwide, UNAIDS says the need for an AIDS vaccine could not be overstated.
The International Court of Justice on Thursday delivered a judgement on a protracted dispute between Hungary and Slovakia over the construction and operation of dams on the river Danube which found both States in breach of their legal obligations. It called on both countries to carry out a 1977 treaty they concluded on the building of dam structures for the production of electric power, flood control and improved navigation on the Danube.
In its judgement, the court found that Hungary and Slovakia must negotiate in good faith in light of the prevailing situation, and must take all necessary measures to ensure that the objectives of the 1977 treaty are met. It also ruled that each party must compensate the other party for the damage caused by its conduct and that accounts for the construction and operation of the works must be settled in accordance with the 1977 treaty and its related instruments.
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