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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-09-29

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 29 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.

HEADLINES

  • Security Council postpones punitive measures against UNITA until end of October.
  • Security Council extends mandate of UN Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara until 20 October.
  • Taliban authorities expel three United Nations officials for protesting gender inequality.
  • Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis says conditions should not be tied to reform proposals.
  • Republic of Korea's Foreign Minister says political will can change Secretary-General's reform ideas into actions.
  • Foreign Minister of Singapore says prospects for further progress of Security Council reform are not good.
  • Foreign Minister of Egypt says current General Assembly session will be litmus test for sincerity about reform.
  • New Zealand's Ambassador says Secretary-General's reform proposals should be considered as a package.
  • Foreign Minister of Sudan says efforts to reform United Nations should be given time to succeed.
  • Foreign Minister of Israel says no reform could be complete without resolving its regional group membership.
  • Foreign Minister of Republic of Moldova welcomes Secretary- General's reform proposals.
  • Bolivia's President calls for elimination of the veto power on the Security Council.
  • Namibia opposes categories of permanent members of Security Council, says its Ambassador.
  • Reform of United Nations must restore development to centre of its agenda, Philippine Foreign Minister says.
  • Thailand supports proposed innovative means of mobilizing new financial resources for development.
  • Lebanon's Foreign Minister says budget cuts harm UN agencies, affecting Palestinian refugees and others.
  • Foreign Minister of Kuwait says Secretary-General's proposed reforms reflect "perceptive analysis".
  • Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso says Africa should get two permanent Security Council seats.
  • Nepal's Foreign Minister says United Nations cannot limp along each year on verge of bankruptcy.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency approves appointment of Mohamed ElBaradei as Director-General.


The United Nations Security Council has decided to postpone until 30 October 1997 sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

By its resolution 1130 (1997), unanimously adopted on Monday, the Security Council postponed the beginning of punitive measures specified in resolution 1127 (1997) of 28 August. In that resolution, the Council had demanded that UNITA implement immediately its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol, including the demobilization of its forces, transformation of its radio station Vorgan into a non-partisan broadcasting facility, and full cooperation in the normalization of State administration throughout Angola. The Council also demanded that UNITA immediately provide information on the its armed personnel in order for them to be demobilized.

Under resolution 1127 (1997), the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, decided that if UNITA should fail to comply with those demands, all States should take measures to restrict the travel of senior officials of UNITA and adult members of their families and close UNITA offices from 30 September. The Council also asked States to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of UNITA leaders and adult members of their families, and to suspend or cancel all of their travel documents, visas or residence permits.

In his report to the Security Council dated 24 September 1997, the Secretary-General said that since the adoption of resolution 1127 (1997), the military situation in Angola had remained relatively calm and stable. However, the demilitarization of UNITA forces was not yet complete. At the same time, the Secretary-General recognized that progress had been made towards the establishment of a non-partisan FM broadcast facility to replace Radio Vorgan. However, the Secretary-General said that the final steps in the Angolan peace process were long overdue and expeditious actions were required.

After the Council adopted resolution 1130 (1997) on Friday, its President, Ambassador Bill Richardson of the United States, told reporters that Council members expected that before 20 October, UNITA would cooperate with the extension of State administration in Cuango, Negage, Mavinga, Andulo and Bailundo.

Also on Friday, a UN spokesman said a ceremony had been held in Negage to hand it over to the Government. "Tomorrow, apparently, they have said that another hand-over ceremony will take place at Cuando" a diamond-mining area controlled by UNITA.


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 20 October, and expressed its readiness to consider the Secretary-General's recommendation for a further six-month extension after that date.

The Council acted unanimously by adopting resolution 1131 (1997). It based its decision on the recommendations of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his latest report on the situation in Western Sahara. According to the report, MINURSO should proceed with the implementation of a stalled United Nations plan to resolve the dispute between Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Sagua el-Hamra y del Ro 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.

In his report, 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."


An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday confirmed that three officials of the United Nations have been expelled from Afghanistan.

Robert Breen of the Afghan Desk of the Geneva-based agency told United Nations Radio that the three officials were ordered to leave Afghanistan following their boycott of a seminar conducted by a UNHCR officer at which a female staff member had been told by the Governor of Kandahar that she could participate without restrictions "other than appropriate cultural dress". According to Mr. Breen, this meant "she would be fully covered but she would be able to keep her face and hands uncovered".

However, when the seminar started in the morning, "there were apparently some objections that had come from the participants and the Governor came to explain to her that it would be necessary for her to sit behind a curtain for her presentation so that she would not have visual eye contact with the Taliban participants at the seminar", Mr. Breen said. Three people from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), and the local Department of Humanitarian Affairs agency for Afghanistan walked out in protest of the violation of United Nations principles on gender equality. The Taliban authorities then gave the three officials twenty-four hours to leave the country.


The Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis on Monday called on Member States to refrain from "marrying conditionalities to the process of reform".

Addressing the fifty-second session of the General Assembly, Denzil Douglas said that placing conditions on reform would hinder the process. In order for the proposed reforms to work, he added, they must balance the interests of Member States and "not simply appear to reward or benefit a privileged few".

On the issue of Security Council expansion, Mr. Douglas said that increases in the permanent and non-permanent membership should be the result of a process of debate and consensus-building, and there should be greater emphasis on "geographic representation and on correcting old inequalities that continue to plague us today".

Prime Minister Douglas said that the growing reduction in levels of much- needed aid and technical assistance to the developing countries threatened further marginalization of poor countries, leaving them to depend more on the United Nations. He urged the United Nations to work closely with developing countries to devise new pragmatic approaches to improving the standards of living of the world's poor.


"The Secretary-General, through his recent reform proposals, has provided the international community with a timely compass to help guide the way", the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea said on Monday.

Yoo Chong-Ha told the General Assembly that the Secretary-General's proposals contained a wide spectrum of reforms designed for the overall enhancement of the United Nations system. "We are confident that many of the Secretary-General's ideas can be translated into action through open- minded deliberation with the full participation of Member States during this session." Member States, he added, must discharge their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions.

Regarding reform of the Security Council, he said that every effort should be made to reach consensus on the matter. Any plan to reform the Council should provide an opportunity for "medium-powered" countries to make a more meaningful contribution to international peace and security. "Convinced that more can be done to make the Security Council a more representative, efficient and democratic body, we will remain open-minded and flexible to any proposals which can move this important process in the right direction", he said.


The Foreign Minister of Singapore has said that prospects for further progress in reforming the Security Council are not good.

In his statement to the General Assembly on Monday, Foreign Minister S. Jayakumar said the reasons for the "dim" prospects were embedded in the international system, which was still largely defined by relations between sovereign States. No great power, "or even a power with aspirations to greatness" had ever been willing to submit its own vital interests to United Nations jurisdiction, he added. Although United Nations reform may be widely accepted, he said, "what the great powers want is not a strong United Nations per se. They want a United Nations just strong enough and credible enough to serve as an effective instrument of their will and policies." Small countries were more inclined to take the United Nations on its own terms and in its own right.

On the expansion of permanent membership of the Council, he said that several permanent members had been categoric only in their desire to see Japan and Germany as new permanent members. Although Japan and Germany were among Member States which agree that the expansion of the Security Council should include some developing countries as new permanent members to reflect new international realities, most permanent members "have been far less clear".

He said that there were contradictions and ambiguities about the process of choosing new members of the Security Council and determining their status. "Conceptually, is it not inherently contradictory for a Member to be said to be 'permanent' but nonetheless be subject to rotation?" He expressed doubt that a rotational system could work for any region except Africa where it was already an established principle.


The current session of the General Assembly will be a "true litmus tests of the sincerity, collective will and resolve as to the present and future of the United Nations", the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Amre Moussa, told the General Assembly on Monday.

Foreign Minister Moussa said United Nations reform must be carried out in conformity with the Charter. Reform of the United Nations machinery could never substitute for political will among Member States to make the Organization work. Expenditures must not be rationalized at the expense of efficient performance. The real threat facing the United Nations was the non-payment by some big powers of the assessed contributions of the United Nations.

Agreement on reform of the Security Council would be a main pillar of United Nations reform, he continued. There should be no time-frame imposed on Security Council reform. If agreement could not be reached on the expansion of the permanent membership, only the number of non- permanent members should be raised, for the time being. "Egypt's regional and international contributions within the framework of Africa, the Arab and Islamic worlds, the Middle East region as well as among the developing countries and emerging economies undoubtedly qualify it to shoulder the responsibilities of permanent membership in a new expanded Security Council where all regions of the world will have a balanced, equitable representation", he said.


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals should be considered as a package, the Ambassador of New Zealand told the General Assembly on Monday. "We appeal to Member States to acknowledge this reality and give the Secretary-General their generous support."

Ambassador Michael Powles said that to reform the United Nations effectively, it was necessary to redistribute resources away from administration and into the Organization's priority work areas. New Zealand supported efficiencies, not cost-cutting which was carried out with no regard to its impact on the Organization. An approach based on efficiencies would allow Member States to reinvigorate the United Nations. "Member States need to trust the Secretary-General to fulfil his responsibilities under the Charter -- to give effect to the policy directions they set."

On Security Council reform, he said increasing the proportion of permanent to non-permanent members ran counter to the principles of democracy and representativeness. Nor could a package on Security Council reform be accepted without substantive proposals opening up and modernizing the workings of the Council.

The Organization's financial crisis was also of grave concern, he said. "We cannot accept that any Member State is entitled to withhold payments unilaterally." All assessed contributions must be paid in full, on time and unconditionally.


The Foreign Minister of Sudan on Monday said that the efforts to reform the United Nations should be given time to succeed.

Ali Othman Mohamed Taha said the results of the General Assembly's high- level working group on strengthening the United Nations system should be given special attention. Sudan was keen that the reform programme should result in strengthening the ability of the United Nations to respond to humanitarian, social and developmental issues.

On proposals to reform the Security Council, he said both the permanent and non-permanent membership should be expanded. The Council's methods of work must also be improved. He spoke of his country's "deep rooted conviction of the importance of enhancing transparency and democracy in the work of the Council so as to respond to the changing realities and current challenges facing the world's peace and security", adding that the Council should not be used "as a tool to punish nations".


The Foreign Minister of Israel on Monday said that no reform of United Nations could be considered complete as long as Israel's membership of a regional group remained unresolved.

David Levy told the General Assembly that Israel shared the opinion of other United Nations Member countries that the United Nations required greater efficiency and a redirecting of its valuable but limited resources towards its truly important tasks. At the same time, he called upon the United Nations to correct the "anomaly" of the unresolved question of Israel's membership in a regional group.

He said Israel was an active and responsible member of the family of nations represented in the United Nations. "However, 50 years after the United Nations adopted, on 29 November 1947, the resolution calling for the establishment of the State of Israel, we are still denied our equal rights in this organization", he said.


The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Moldova on Monday expressed support for the Secretary-General's reform proposals, which he said were designed to enable the Organization to deal with the challenges of the coming millennium. "We welcome these initiatives and we support them", he said.

The United Nations could only proposer if the financial crisis were settled. He called on Member States to pay their dues in full and on time. While this was critical, it was also necessary to adjust the scale of assessments of United Nations dues to better reflect each country's capacity to pay.

He expressed Moldova's interest in contributing to the United Nations system, particularly in the area of peace and security. Moldova was ready to take part in the United Nations rapid reaction force, and would soon provide information on the contingents and equipment it was making available for that purpose.


The President of Bolivia on Monday called for the elimination of the Security Council veto power. "We should move towards the elimination of the veto, limiting its use in the interim to Chapter VII questions", he said, referring to the Chapter in the Charter which confers enforcement power upon the Security Council.

In his address to the General Assembly, General Hugo Banzer Suarez said it would be necessary to expand and reform the Security Council in order to ensure equitable and non-discriminatory geographical distribution of seats. That would enable the Council to act in a legitimate and representative manner.

The Bolivian President also welcomed the Secretary-General's proposed reforms. He said that implementing the proposals would be essential to strengthening the role of the Secretariat.


The Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations on Monday said that his country was opposed to the categories of permanent members of the Security Council.

Ambassador Martin Andjaba said that as Member States continued to seek ways and means to reform the United Nations, they should not act with haste. The open-ended working group on the restructuring of the security council, he added, should be the forum to seek and reach a consensus on the matter.

Financial limitations were hampering the work of the United Nations, he said, adding that "reform cannot supplant the Charter obligations of Member States to honour their financial obligations". Namibia welcomed the proposed establishment of a revolving credit fund, capitalized at a level of up to $1 billion through voluntary contributions or other appropriate means. However, he pointed out, the United Nations could only execute its mandate to the fullest when all Member States enabled it to do so. "We all must honour our assessed contributions in line with international agreements, not unilateral decisions."


"We must immediately embark upon the reform of the United Nations", the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines told the General Assembly on Monday, calling on Member States to give "serious consideration" to the Secretary-General's reform proposals. Domingo L. Siazon, Jr. said a fundamental objective of reform should be to restore development to the centre of the United Nations agenda. He expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General's emphasis on development.

The Philippines favoured enlarging the Security Council in order to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. Security Council membership should be more representative of the world's developing regions and more reflective of modern global realities. New permanent members should enjoy the same rights as current permanent members. The use of the veto should be limited to actions under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Concerning the Organization's financial situation, he said reforming the United Nations should not be seen as an opportunity to hold the Organization for ransom. "We are all in favour of reforming and strengthening the United Nations, but setting 'benchmarks' of reform should not be a precondition for a Member State to pay its assessed contributions."


The Foreign Minister of Thailand has expressed his country's support for the Secretary-General's proposal on innovative means of mobilizing new financial resources for development.

Joining others who have expressed support for the Secretary- General's package of proposals for United Nations reform, Prachuab Chaiyasan said that Thailand saw the United Nations as the main forum for creating an equal partnership between developed and developing countries. That partnership, he added, "should be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the developing world".

Restructuring of the Security Council was vital to United Nations reform, he said. Despite the end of the cold war, the "anachronistic yet so powerful 'veto power' still exists in this supposedly more democratized institution". Thailand and the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, believed that the veto power should be curtailed and eventually eliminated. The Security Council itself should be expanded to enhance its democratic and representative nature while paying due regard to its efficiency and effectiveness, he stated.


Under the rubric of budget cuts, many United Nations agencies like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), have lost their ability to render services to refugees in host countries like Lebanon, that country's Foreign Minister said on Monday. Foreign Minister Fares Bouez said the international community "must act and redress this injustice inflicted on the Palestinian refugees".

In his statement to the General Assembly, the Foreign Minister also said Lebanon enthusiastically supports reform of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council. He called for a realistic expansion of the Security Council to reflect changed realities, and expressed support for the addition of new rotating permanent seats.

Concerning the Secretary-General's reform proposals, he stressed the importance of placing priority on United Nations work in the area of development.


The Secretary-General's proposed reforms reflect "perceptive analysis as well as pragmatism while maintaining the focus on performance efficiency and cost effectiveness", the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait told the General Assembly on Monday.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said all reform measures should aim to enhance the Organization's performance through the evolution of new modes of operation, streamlined structures and a more focused global agenda.

On the issue of Security Council reform, he said any new composition should reflect the collective will of the international community to address future challenges. Permanent Council members should have the necessary political will, military muscle, financial resources and sense of initiative to act decisively. "Ideally, membership should not be composed on the basis of security divides and concepts favouring some groupings to the determent of others", he said.


Africa must have its place on the Security Council, which devoted most of its time to considering issues on the continent, the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso told the General Assembly on Monday. He said that two seats for Africa would be "minimum justice" to that continent, which, like Latin America, currently had no permanent representation. Expansion of the Security Council was critical, he added, but its methods of work must also be reviewed if reform was to succeed.

Foreign Minister Ablasse Ouedraogo also expressed appreciation to the Secretary-General for his reform proposals, which were designed "to keep us all in step with the times and with future challenges". Burkina Faso would fully join the reform exercise.

Welcoming the generous contribution by a wealthy individual to the United Nations, he reminded all Member States of their obligations to pay their dues in full, on time and without conditions. "This is also part of the necessary reforms", he said.


The Foreign Minister of Nepal on Monday said that if the United Nations had to perform its mission, it could not limp from one year to another on the verge of bankruptcy.

In his statement to the General Assembly, Kamal Thapa, who endorsed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call to make the session a "Reform Assembly", said no country should bear excessive burden, but added that the assessment of dues should be based on the capacity to pay. Agreeing with the Secretary- General that United Nations reform was a shared concern of all Member States, Mr. Thapa said the "universal cause, therefore, is to make the United Nations a more vibrant world Organization, more properly equipped, institutionally and financially, to meet the evolving changes in the next century".

Regarding the reform of the Security Council, the Foreign Minister said Nepal's position coincided with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement that the Council should reflect changes in contemporary political and economic realities. "It should be more representative in composition and more transparent in functioning. It must be more democratic in character. It must, above all, be capable of prompt action, when peace is threatened." He emphasized that any reform of the Security Council must be the fruit of ratifiable global consensus and must in no way diminish the Council's capacity for prompt and effective action to maintain international peace and security.


The General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday approved the appointment of Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt as its Director-General. He will succeed Hans Blix of Sweden, who is retiring after 16 years in office and who received the title of Director General Emeritus from the General Conference, which is meeting in Vienna. The change of leadership will take effect on 1 December.

In his statement to the General Conference, Mr. ElBaradei called for a broad consensus on the three pillars of sustainable development, nuclear safety and nuclear verification. "The IAEA is an organization for the promotion of peace and sustainable development through international cooperation to utilize nuclear energy safely, while curbing nuclear weapons' proliferation and hopefully, one day, verifying their elimination", he said.

Mr. ElBaradei holds the rank of Ambassador in the Egyptian Foreign Service. He has been a senior member of the IAEA secretariat since 1984 and currently serves as Assistant Director General for External Relations. Born in 1942, he studied at the University of Cairo and at the New York University School of Law, where he was awarded his Master's degree and Doctorate in international law. He was appointed as IAEA Director General in June 1997 by the Agency's Board of Governors, which recommended the appointment to the IAEA General Conference.


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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