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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-10

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


Wednesday, 10 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.


  • United Nations kicks off commemoration of fiftieth year of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • General Assembly demands complete halt to all Israeli settlement activities in occupied territories.
  • Members of the Security Council express concern about growing tensions in Angola.
  • Security Council members call for international support for Inter- African Mission in Central African Republic.
  • World Food Programme provides emergency food aid to 1.4 million victims of drought in Tanzania.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Hennadiy Udovenko on Wednesday said that the promotion of human rights is an integral part of the United Nations.

In his opening remarks at the celebration of Human Rights Day, under the theme "All Human Rights for All", Mr. Udovenko said that as the United Nations began the countdown to the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it would be proper to recall that the promotion of human rights is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

United States First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was among the participants at the commemoration of Human Rights Day at United Nations Headquarters in New York, said that in too many places injustices were still committed against women. "We choose not to see the injustice of legal systems around the world that continue to treat women as less than complete citizens."

In too many places, Mrs.Clinton said, female heirs received less inheritance than male heirs. She added that inequitable divorce laws compelled women to remain in cruel marriages and that courts of law required the testimony of two women to equal that of a solitary man. Citing discrimination in other areas, Mrs. Clinton said that the contribution of women to the economic lives of families and countries was being ignored.

In his statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day, United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan stressed the universality of human rights. Speaking at the University of Tehran in Iran, he said that it was the universality of human rights that gave them their strength and endowed them with the power to cross any border, climb any wall, defy any force. "The struggle for universal human rights has always and everywhere been a struggle against all forms of tyranny and injustice, against slavery, against colonialism, against apartheid. It is nothing less and nothing different today."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said that it was encouraging that there are now efforts in Africa to address past wrongs.

Mrs. Robinson sent her message during her tour of Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. The message of the Human Rights Commissioner was delivered by her representative in New York, Purificacion Quisumbing.

The Human Rights Commissioner said that the problems described to her in the past days were also found in other regions of the world -- murderous violence and rape, ethnic tensions, discrimination, inequality of economic opportunity, the legacies of abusive regimes, pervasive poverty, and denial of basic rights to women.

"The currency of these violations is a sobering reminder that we have no basis for self-satisfaction or complacency", Mrs Robinson said.

The General Assembly on Wednesday demanded a complete halt to the construction of a new settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim and of all Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories. A resolution to this effect was adopted along with a wide range of draft texts on the recommendation of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).

The text on Israeli settlements was one of five resolutions on Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories adopted on Wednesday. By its terms, the Assembly also reaffirmed that those settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace, as well as to economic and social development.

The resolution was adopted by 149 votes in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 7 abstentions (Bulgaria, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Uruguay).

Other Fourth Committee texts adopted on Wednesday addressed such issues as the effects of atomic radiation, international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), peacekeeping operations, and questions relating to information.

Members of the Security Council have expressed concerned about growing tensions in Angola.

In a statement to the press, Security Council President Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica said the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) must move ahead quickly to complete its remaining obligations under the 1994 Lusaka Protocol and relevant Council resolutions. Ambassador Berrocal said Council members "call on UNITA to stop laying new mines, attacking UN and NGO personnel and restricting access of personnel from the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola".

The Council President also urged the Angolan Government to conduct the extension of state administration in a way that would not aggravate the already tense situation in some areas of the country. The Government was also called upon to investigate abuses and prosecute those responsible. The Security Council members also urged Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos and UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi to meet as soon as possible in Angola in order to give fresh impetus to the process of national reconciliation.

The Security Council has called for continued international support for the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB) in the Central African Republic.

Addressing reporters in New York on behalf of the Council, its President, Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica, said he considered the Mission in the Central African Republic to be a "successful example of preventive diplomacy". The Council also called on all parties to implement the provisions of the Bangui agreements and to cooperate fully with the Inter- African Mission.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Wednesday that it will provide urgently needed emergency food aid to 1.4 million people who have lost two harvests to drought in the United Republic of Tanzania.

At the request of the Tanzanian Government, WFP will deliver 69,000 metric tonnes of maize and 7,000 tonnes of pulses to assist the most seriously affected people in 48 districts.

The $33 million emergency operation began on 30 November when WFP trucks delivered 300 tonnes of maize to feed 212,000 people in Dodoma. The first deliveries are going to central Tanzania, where the situation is most critical. WFP teams have visited Dodoma, Singida, Shinyanga, Mara, Tabora, and Arusha and found many farmers who have lost their entire crop this year and used up their personal food reserves.

There are daily reports of increased stress and sickness due to severe food shortages. Many schools have been closed for the past two months.

The World Food Programme is being assisted by eleven non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and local communities in the provision of assistance to targeted villages and households most in need.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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