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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-11

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 11 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.


  • After tough negotiations, industrialized countries agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 per cent.
  • In Tehran, Secretary-General questions assertions that human rights are a "Western concept".
  • Secretary-General recommends that United Nations Peacekeeping Force remain in Cyprus for six more months.
  • Security Council members call on junta in Sierra Leone to honour agreement for return of legitimate government.
  • Security Council members stress role of United Nations in promoting peace in Burundi.
  • Secretary-General's investigative team in Congo-Kinshasa continues work in Mbandaka, but faces delays elsewhere.
  • President of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda says trials of alleged war criminals are well under way.

After 10 days of tough negotiations, the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reached agreement early on Thursday morning on a legally binding Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"This will represent a major shift in the trend of emissions", said Secretary-General Kofi Annan, adding, "it shows true political leadership by the largest industrialized countries". In a statement issued by his Spokesman, the Secretary-General noted that the Protocol provided opportunities for partnerships between governments and the private sector. "This is a sound foundation for a global cooperative strategy which will bring together, under the aegis of the United Nations, governments, civil society and the business community in a joint effort to protect a common environmental resource."

Under the Protocol, negotiated by ministers and other high-level officials from over 160 countries, industrialized States will reduce their collective emissions by 5.2 per cent by the years 2008 to 2012.

If compared to expected emissions levels for the year 2000, the total reductions required by the Protocol will actually amount to some 10 per cent, because many industrialized countries have not succeed in meeting their earlier aim -- which was not binding -- to return their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. In fact, their emissions have risen since 1990. Compared to what would be expected by the year 2010 without emissions- control measures, the Protocol represents a 30 per cent cut.

"This agreement will have a real impact on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions", said Ambassador Raoul Estrada Oyuela of Argentina, who chaired the negotiating committee.

Under the Protocol, the overall reductions will be realized through national reductions of 8 per cent by Switzerland, many Central and Eastern European States, and the European Union; 7 per cent by the United States; and 6 per cent by Canada, Hungary, Japan and Poland. Russia, New Zealand and Ukraine are to stabilize their emissions, while Norway may increase by up to 1 per cent, Australia up to 8 per cent, and Iceland up to 10 per cent.

The Protocol will be opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 16 March 1998. It will enter into force after it has been ratified by at least 6 countries representing 55 per cent of the total 1990 emissions from developed countries.

"When we talk of human rights being a Western concept, doesn't the Iranian mother or the African mother cry when their son or daughter is tortured? Don't we all feel when one of our leaders is unjustly imprisoned? Don't we all suffer from the lack of the rule of law and from arbitrariness? What is foreign about that?" These questions were raised by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a press conference held Thursday in Tehran. He was responding to a question as to whether there was a "Western human rights business".

Stressing that human rights are universal, the Secretary-General asked, "When you talk to individuals, have you ever come across a victim, somebody who has been tortured, talking against human rights?" He stressed that all of the work of the United Nations was centred on individuals.

Asked about his vision for the United Nations, Mr. Annan expressed hope that the reform process would enable the Organization to focus on its objectives, incite governments to move towards development, encourage governments to work for a clean environment, work to alleviate poverty, and encourage good government and respect for human rights and the rule of law. The United Nations should at the same time "encourage governments to come together to fight what I call uncivil society, that is, drug pushing, money laundering, terrorism and international crime".

The Secretary-General left Tehran for an official visit to Kuwait, where he is expected to arrive on Friday.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is recommending that the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) be extended for six months. "The presence of UNFICYP on the island remains indispensable in order to maintain the ceasefire between the two sides, which is a prerequisite for achieving the settlement of the Cyprus question sought by the international community", the Secretary-General writes in his latest report on the Force.

The situation in Cyprus continues to be marked by tension, according to the report. "The continued lack of progress towards an overall settlement, coupled with increasingly belligerent rhetoric, contributed to a growing sense of frustration in both communities."

The Secretary-General expresses disappointment that after more than one year of intensive discussions, a package of "reciprocal measures" proposed by UNFICYP to reduce tension along the ceasefire lines has still not been put in place. He notes that the Turkish Cypriot side has accepted the package, and expresses the hope that the Greek Cypriot side will do the same without delay.

Over the past six months, there has been a slight rise in the number of serious shooting incidents in or near the buffer zone. The worst occurred on 8 October when Turkish forces fired seven rifle shots towards a Greek Cypriot farmer who, against UNFICYP warnings, had driven his tractor beyond the farming security line. On 3 November, Turkish forces helicopters violated the buffer zone during their annual military exercise in Cyprus. Two days later, four Turkish fighter planes flew straight across the buffer zone and entered the government-controlled area before returning to the northern part of the island.

In order to reduce tensions, UNFICYP has been organizing activities for members of both communities, which the Secretary-General encourages in his report. These include an open house on UN Day which saw the participation of some 4,000 people from both communities.

Members of the Security Council have called on the military junta in Sierra Leone to fully implement the Conakry agreement, which would restore the legitimate government by next April.

The military junta was sent a clear message that it must cooperate in a statement read by Council President Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica on behalf of the Council members. They urged that dialogue continue with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards the early implementation of the Conakry agreement. That agreement calls for the deployment of ECOWAS to conduct a disarmament operation, and requires that humanitarian assistance be supervised by the ECOWAS monitoring group (ECOMOG) and United Nations military observers.

Ambassador Berrocal also expressed the Council's concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone. The urged all parties to allow humanitarian assistance to go through unhindered.

Members of the Security Council on Thursday stressed the importance of the role of the United Nations in promoting peace in Burundi.

Speaking on behalf of the members, Council President Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica said they were concerned about the impasse in negotiations on Burundi. "The members also expressed their continued concern both for humanitarian situation within Burundi and the increasing tensions between Burundi and Tanzania", he said.

Ambassador Berrocal expressed the Council's full support for the fact- finding mission which aims to reduce tensions along the border between Burundi and Tanzania.

The team sent by United Nations Secretary-General to probe allegations of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has started its field work, but delays and difficulties continue, according to a United Nations Spokesman.

Members of the team have begun their work in Mbandaka, in the northwestern part of the country. The investigators reported, however, that another scheduled deployment on Thursday morning was delayed when three members of the Government's Liaison committee accompanying them refused to cooperate. United Nations Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told reporters on Thursday that four additional Government officials joined the team despite an agreement that only three officers would accompany it. "The members told the three liaison officers that the team was not responsible for the four additional personnel and that it would not go and start work with them because they had never been agreed to", Mr. Brandt told reporters. He added that discussions are ongoing to resolve this difficulty while work in Mbandaka continues.

According to Mr. Brandt, other investigators who had travelled to Wendji, about 23 kilometres from Mbandaka, were surrounded by demonstrators and prevented from reaching the locality. "As of this time, team members are still discussing the matter with Wendji authorities", he said.

The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda says its trials of persons suspected of involvement in the country's 1994 genocide are well under way. "I think we've accomplished a great deal when you look at where we really are in Arusha, the conditions that really confront us", President Laity Kama told reporters in New York on Thursday.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda recently commissioned a separate courtroom in order to be able to conduct two trials at the same time. President Kama said there are 33 accused persons as well as twenty- five detainees at the Tribunal's seat in Arusha. "We are rather a victim of our own success because now we have to judge these people and do it rather swiftly, because everyone has the right to be tried within a reasonable time frame", he said.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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