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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-04

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 4 December 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.


  • Security Council extends "oil-for-food" programme in Iraq, freeing additional $2 billion in oil revenues for humanitarian aid.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency says it is "highly unlikely" that Iraq committed violations when weapons inspectors were out.
  • Head of UN Special Commission on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction prepares to leave for Baghdad.
  • UN Preventive Deployment Force to remain in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia through next August.
  • As General Assembly discusses Security Council reform, some countries press for action while others caution restraint.
  • Intense negotiations on an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue in Kyoto, Japan.
  • UN commission for Latin America and the Caribbean says the region produces less than 6 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide.
  • New Executive Director of UN Environment Programme calls for attention to macroeconomic issues.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights hears of violations against youth by rebel group in Uganda.

The Security Council on Thursday extended the "oil-for-food" programme in Iraq for 180 days, allowing the country to sell an additional $2 billion in oil and use the revenues for humanitarian aid.

The Council, by unanimously adopting resolution 1143 (1997), also decided that the distribution plan from the previous 180-day period in the oil-for- food programme will remain in effect until Iraq submits a new plan and it is approved by the United Nations Secretary-General. The new distribution plan must be submitted by Iraq before 5 January 1998, according to the resolution, which was adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, allowing for enforcement.

Welcoming the Secretary-General's intention to make recommendations for improving the humanitarian programme, the Council expressed its willingness "to take such action over additional resources as needed to meet the priority humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people". The Council also expressed its willingness to consider extending the time frame for the implementation of its resolution.

A number of speakers in the Council expressed concern about the humanitarian plight of the Iraqi people and said aid to them must be expedited. The Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Sergey V. Lavrov, said the humanitarian crisis was "truly disastrous for broad sectors of the Iraqi people". Chronic malnutrition persisted, infant mortality was a serious problem, and there was a growing threat of epidemics. He said the blocking of humanitarian applications in the committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq had "lead to months of delays and destabilization of the whole dynamics of the delivery of basic supplies, including the most necessary medicines".

The Ambassador of the United States, Bill Richardson, said Iraq should stop "playing politics" with the oil-for-food programme. "I think by now it should be clear to all where genuine concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people resides. This concern has been unshaken by the determined efforts of the Iraqi Government to undercut the Security Council and its resolutions at every turn."

Director-General Mohamed Elbaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday informed United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan that, in the nuclear field, it is highly unlikely that any proscribed activities occurred and that no relevant materials or equipment were diverted during the 23-day period of absence of IAEA inspectors from Iraq.

The inspectors left the country after Iraq ordered all United Nations inspectors of United States nationality to leave the country. The IAEA as well as inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were out of the country from 29 October to 20 November.

Since returning to Iraq on 21 November, IAEA inspectors have carried out more than 40 inspections to restore the technical basis for the Agency's ongoing monitoring and verification activities in Iraq.

The Director-General also informed the Secretary-General that an IAEA team intends to visit Iraq during the week of 15 December to clarify a number of outstanding matters mentioned in the Agency's last report to the Security Council.

The Agency believes that resolution of these matters would provide further assurance that its technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme is comprehensive and that there are no activities outside this picture. It would also permit the IAEA to tailor its ongoing monitoring and verification activities appropriately.

The Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (UNSCOM) is preparing to travel to Baghdad from 12 to 16 December. Ambassador Richard Butler is expected to meet with Iraqi officials to discuss the work of the Commission.

Addressing reporters in New York on Thursday, United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan expressed hope that Ambassador Butler will have frank and constructive discussions with the Iraqi authorities in order to eliminate some of the difficulties confronting UNSCOM's operations. "I know we have had a tense relationship with the Iraqis in the last couple of weeks", said Mr.Annan, noting that the Iraqis "would want to see light at the end of the tunnel". He said the only way to get that was to cooperate fully with UNSCOM. That would enable the Council to determine that Iraq is free of arms and poses no threat to its neighbours. Then, sanctions could be lifted, the Secretary-General noted.

The United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) will remain in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until 31 August 1998, according to a Security Council resolution adopted unanimously on Thursday.

The Force has 750 troops monitoring the country's border and preventing any outbreak of conflict.

Addressing the Council before the resolution's adoption, the Ambassador of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said his Government would have preferred a twelve-month extension. "The situation in the Balkans will not improve as much as we would like to improve it in the coming nine months", said Ambassador Naste Calovski. He told the Council that continued efforts by the United Nations were needed "to prevent new conflicts, to solve the present ones, to implement the Dayton agreements, to develop better neighbourly relations among the Balkan States, and to integrate them into European structures".

By adopting resolution 1142 (1997), the Council also requested Secretary- General Kofi Annan to make recommendations on the type of international presence that will be needed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia after UNPREDEP withdraws.

As the General Assembly considers the issue of Security Council reform, some countries are pressing for action while others caution restraint. Over 60 countries are expected to take part in the debate, which began on Thursday.

A number of countries, including Canada, Egypt, Italy, Mexico and Pakistan, have sponsored a draft resolution by which the Assembly would stress that Council reform is of such importance that it cannot be subject to any imposed time-frame. The Assembly would also recognize the need to allow Member States adequate time to further reflect on the question to identify solutions on which general agreement can be reached.

Germany has proposed amendments to the draft resolution altering the text so that the Assembly, while still not imposing any time-frame, would also recognize the importance of treating reform of the Council "as a matter of urgent attention".

Speaking on Thursday, Italian Ambassador Francesco Paolo Fulci said any increase in the permanent membership of the Security Council would only serve the interests of a few countries to the detriment of small and medium- sized States. He objected to the creation of a "fourth-class" status for non-permanent rotating members under current proposals for expanding the Council. Italy is proposing that any new permanent seat for Europe should be granted on a rotating basis.

The Ambassador of Germany, Tono Eitel, called on the Assembly to give itself a clear agenda to arrive at a decision. "Let us put an end to our navel-gazing and show public opinion that the United Nations can do more than getting absorbed in self-focused discussions. Security Council reform is not l'art pour l'art."

Intense negotiations on an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continued in Kyoto, Japan on Thursday at the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Raoul Estrada, the Executive Chairman of the Committee of the Whole charged with leading the negotiations on a draft agreement said that the talks were bogged down by an apparent lack of flexibility on the part of the developed countries. On the other hand, he said, developing countries have adopted a very flexible position to facilitate solutions. "The only thing developing countries are asking is to have a clear commitment from developed countries to reduce emissions. At the moment we have that all other pieces will fall in place."

At the same time, the Group of 77 developing countries and China said they were still waiting for those mainly responsible for climate change and its adverse effects to take concrete action in these negotiations. "Until now there is a lot that we are waiting to see in terms of the core issue of these negotiations, which is quantified emission limitations from developed countries", said Ambassador Mark Mwandosya of the United Republic of Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Meanwhile, the United States continued to hold firm to its position of returning all greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012. Other countries are calling for reductions in greenhouse gases ranging from 3 per cent to 35 per cent.

Latin America and the Caribbean generate less than 6 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide, while developed countries generate around 70 per cent, according to a study presented at the Third Conference of the Parties of the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan. Latin America is highlighted, however, as the region with one of the largest CO2 deposits because of its forested areas, which allow a high degree of reabsorption of the gas.

The data on world CO2 emissions is included in the study, Energy and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Approaches to Energy Policy, published by the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Latin American Organization for Energy, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenerarbeit of the German Government within the framework of a project by the same name.

The study concludes that Latin American and Caribbean countries made relative but significant progress toward reducing regional and global air pollution.

According to other United Nation's statistics, the United States contributes 33.7 per cent of the world's CO2 emissions, with 4.5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The European Union is responsible for 21 per cent of the CO2 emissions, with 25 per cent of GDP and 6 per cent of the population, Latin America produces 6 per cent of the world's CO2, with 6 per cent of the GNP and 8 per cent of the population.

The newly elected Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus T”pfer of Germany, has said that economic instruments must be used to harmonize the globalization of markets with the globalization of environment policy. "I am convinced that the United Nations can and must exercise political leadership in global environmental diplomacy", Mr. T”pfer told reporters in New York on Thursday.

The UNEP was created in 1972 to be the global advocate for the environment. With its headquarters in Nairobi, UNEP has leveraged a small budget into a programme of major significance and lasting influence. It assesses the state of the world's environment; helps formulate international environmental law; strengthens the environmental management capacity of developing countries; and raises environmental considerations for the social and economic policies and programmes of United Nations agencies.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has arrived in Kigali, Rwanda after spending a day in Uganda where she met with President Yoweri Museveni.

Mrs. Robinson was also briefed by a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the large-scale abduction and brutal treatment of young teenagers by a the rebel group in Uganda called the Lord's Resistance Army. According to United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard, in one district an average of two children were abducted per day. UNICEF estimates that about 8,000 children in total have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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