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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Friday, 12 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.


  • UN Secretary-General visits demilitarized zone between Kuwait and Iraq.
  • Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Refugees condemn killings of refugees in Rwanda.
  • United Nations Secretary-General recommends an extension of UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina for one year.
  • General Assembly adopts resolutions on human rights and other social, humanitarian and cultural issues.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization warns that El Nio is causing shortfalls in food supplies.
  • International Civil Aviation Organization can serve to reduce aviation- related greenhouse gas emissions.
  • President of UN Staff Union says not enough is being done to protect the Organization's personnel.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on an official visit to Kuwait, visited the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) on Friday.

On the Kuwaiti side of the demilitarized zone, the Secretary-General addressed military and civilian staff of UNIKOM. He thanked the staff for their efforts and sacrifices and expressed appreciation of the important role they play in maintaining peace and security in the area.

Stressing that individuals can make a difference, Mr. Annan said "When we say individuals can make a difference let's stop thinking about the third person. That individual could be you and it could be me" adding that "if we all do our best and carry out our functions efficiently, effectively and with enthusiasm, we can all make a major contribution collectively." He also thanked the families of the United Nations staff working without their spouses and children in Kuwait. He praised UNIKOM Major-General Esa Kalero Tavanien of Finland for maintaining high morale.

The Secretary-General inspected a patrol and observation sector in the northern sector of the demilitarized zone and toured a project for a naval capability to enhance UNIKOM's monitoring of the waterway which is the main entry point for ships delivering supplies to the country.

On Saturday the Secretary-General is expected to receive an honourary doctorate from Kuwait University, followed by a press conference.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata have condemned the recent killings of mostly women and children refugees in Rwanda.

It is estimated that 231 people were killed and another 207 wounded at the Mudende refugee camp in Rwanda. The victims, who had fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were mostly hacked to death in their sleep, according to UNHCR. The refugee agency's Spokeswoman, Pam O'Toole, said most of the Tutsis in the camp were hacked to death. "This was the worst attack to date on a refugee camp in Rwanda and comes at a time of escalating general violence in that country.

UNHCR staff who visited the camp after the attack said it was particularly brutal. Even babies were killed, according to the UN staff.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the killings were a brutal reminder of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its devastating consequences for the region. "It is most distressing that after almost four years, prospects for peace, stability and national reconciliation remain dim and that efforts to find lasting solutions in Rwanda and the region have not been successful."

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended an extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) for a further twelve months.

The recommendation is contained in his report on the United Nations Mission which is helping to develop the policing capacity for the country.

In making this recommendation, the Secretary-General notes that thanks to the strong and consistent support of the Stabilization Force, the unarmed monitors of the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) have been able to carry out their mandate in an effective manner.

The Secretary-General says much has been achieved, but much also remains to be done. The Secretary-General points out several areas where United Nations monitors are focusing their efforts: building the capacity of the Ministry of the Interior in each entity, reform of the judicial system in both entities, and improving the ability of the law enforcement authorities to fight financial crime, smuggling and corruption.

The authorized strength of IPTF remains at 2,027, with 64 stations which now report directly to seven regional offices.

The General Assembly on Friday adopted a series of resolutions on the recommendation of its Social, Humanitarian and Cultural (Third) Committee.

A series of controversial human rights resolutions were the subject of recorded votes. Among them, the Assembly expressed deep concern at the serious widespread and continuing human rights violations in the Sudan. It strongly condemned the massive and extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq. The Assembly also called on the Government of Iran to eliminate human rights violations against women. The Government of Cuba was called upon to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights.

By a resolution on the situation of human rights in Nigeria, the Assembly called upon the country's Government to release all political prisoners, including those detained in connection with the 1993 presidential elections.

Addressing the situation of human rights in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Assembly called for the full and consistent implementation of relevant peace agreements. It also expressed deep concern about all violations of human rights in Kosovo, particularly the repression of the ethnic Albanian population.

Other resolutions on human rights country situations were adopted without votes, including texts by which the Assembly strongly urged the Government of Myanmar to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners; expressed concern at the security problems faced by people in Haiti; and urged all Afghan parties to end discrimination based on gender. Under a resolution on the human rights situation in Rwanda, the Assembly reiterated its strong condemnation of the crime of genocide and all other violations of human rights which were perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994 and express its concern at the alleged continuation of human rights violations in that country.

The Assembly voted on most resolutions concerning human rights questions, including one rejecting unilateral coercive measures as tools for political or economic pressure against any country, in particular against developing countries, because of their negative effects on the realization of all the human rights of vast sectors of their populations. That text was adopted by a vote of 91 in favour to 46 against, with 26 abstentions.

The Assembly expressed grave concern about the serious violations of human rights in Cambodia during the armed violence of early July and its aftermath.

The Assembly took note of the importance given to human rights by the Secretary-General in his reform proposals and urged him to give high priority to the promotion and realization of the right to development. That text was adopted by a vote of 129 in favour to 12 against, with 32 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly encouraged States to combat hatred, intolerance and acts of violence, intimidation and coercion motivated by religious intolerance. Other texts addressed the rights of minorities, protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons, and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity in United Nations human rights activities. That text was adopted by a vote of 116 in favour to 2 against (Israel and United States), with 50 abstentions.

By another resolution, the Assembly reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of the acts, methods and practices of terrorism.

By resolutions on social development, all approved without a vote, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to officially launch the International Year for Older Persons in 1998; encouraged an examination of policy issues related to equal opportunities for persons with disabilities; called on States to implement the World Programme of Action for Youth; and requested consideration of a United Nations decade to eradicate illiteracy.

All resolutions on crime prevention and criminal justice were also approved without votes. They addressed, among others, the elaboration of a comprehensive international convention against organized transnational crime; Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women; international cooperation against corruption and bribery in international commercial transactions; and preparations for the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, to be held in the year 2000.

By a seven-part resolution on international action to combat drug abuse and illicit production and trafficking, the Assembly decided to convene a special session on drugs held from 8 to 10 June 1998. It urged States to ratify anti-drug treaties and sought greater cooperation between the United Nations and multilateral development banks on drug control. All countries were urged to develop a balanced and comprehensive approach to demand reduction.

The Assembly, also acting without voting, adopted a series of resolutions on the advancement of women which addressed such issues as women in rural areas, improving the status of women in the Secretariat, violence against women migrant workers, and trafficking in women and girls. For the first time, a resolution was adopted on traditional or customary practices by which the Assembly called upon States to mobilize public opinion on the harmful effects of female genital mutilation.

By a series of resolutions on refugees, the Assembly, among others, called for strengthening the emergency response capacity of the United Nations system based on the experience of the emergency in the Great Lakes region. It condemned all acts that pose a threat to the personal security of refugees and asylum-seekers and all acts of exploitation of unaccompanied refugee minors, including their use as soldiers or human shields and their forced recruitment.

In resolutions on children, the Assembly urged all States to enact and enforce legislation protecting girls from all forms of violence, including female infanticide, prenatal sex selection, female genital mutilation, incest, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child prostitution and child pornography. Another draft resolution addressed the special needs of children with disabilities, children in armed conflict, refugee and internally displaced children, child workers and street children.

Concerning indigenous people, the Assembly encouraged support for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1994-2004). In other actions, the Assembly called for measures to combat contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Assembly categorically deplored the misuse of print, audiovisual and electronic media and new communication technologies, including the Internet, to incite violence motivated by racial hatred. It also decided to convene a world conference on racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance no later than the year 2001.

The Assembly voted to call upon all States that have not yet done so to consider taking action to sign or ratify the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. Acting without a vote, the Assembly called upon those States responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories and all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.

The Assembly adopted a resolution concerning the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination by a vote of 120 in favour to 2 against (Israel and United States) with six abstentions (Dominican Republic, Georgia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Norway and Uruguay). It expressed deep concern over the deterioration of the Middle East peace process.

In another action, the Assembly proclaimed 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that 37 countries in the world are facing shortfalls in food supplies as a result of the El Nio phenomenon.

This phenomenon is caused by the abnormal warming of the ocean in the Pacific, which in turn triggers off a chain reaction in the atmosphere, affecting the weather pattern in different parts of the world.

In its report on Foodcrops and Shortages, the food agency says that Central America and the Caribbean have been adversely affected by El Nio, forcing the addition of five Central American countries onto the FAO problem list.

Mwite Rukandema, a senior economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, told United Nations Radio on Friday that some countries have lost entire crops. He said that others are being assisted to start rehabilitating the agricultural sector, in order to start planting for the next season which is starting now.

According to Mr. Rukandema, the impact of El Nio has been more pronounced in Asia where, for example, Papua New Guinea is facing a drought. Indonesia, he added, has been plagued by drought and fires.

In certain parts of Africa, however, the impact of El Nio has been the opposite. A lot of rain in eastern Africa has caused a lot of flooding. In countries like Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, flooding has become a big problem resulting in the loss of life, livestock, and destruction of crops.

The FAO senior economist said that the agency expects El Nio to also have an impact on Southern Africa, adding however that it is still early to tell because the season is now beginning and the impact of El Nino normally peaks around December or beginning of January.

The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been recognized as the global instrument for developed countries to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation.

This role of ICAO has been established by a provision of the recently concluded agreement on greenhouse gas emissions at the Conference held in Kyoto, Japan, which concluded on Thursday.

The President of the Council of ICAO, Dr. Assad Kotaite, has said that the provision of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change clearly establishes the role of ICAO as the principal forum for dealing effectively with international aviation emissions and recognizes the work of the Organization in environmental matters over the years.

While national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions cover almost all sectors of economic activity, they exclude emissions from international aviation. This exclusion is a result of the difficulty in allocating such targets to specific countries because international airlines from one country in one region can fly over another country in another region. As an example, the International Civil Aviation Organization asks which country should be responsible for emissions involving an airline from the Americas flying over the Middle East, or between a country in Europe and another in Asia.

ICAO was created in 1944 to promote safe and orderly development of civil aviation in the world. The specialized agency of the United Nations sets international standards and regulations necessary for the safety, security, efficiency and regularity of air transport and services among its 185 Contracting States.

The agency began dealing with environmental-related aviation issues as early as 1968. It has issued Standards and Recommended Practices for aircraft emissions under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. ICAO has also developed guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from civil aviation and has cooperated directly with organizations involved in the Climate Change Convention.

Rosemary Waters, the President of the United Nations Staff Union, told reporters in New York on Friday that United Nations agencies are not doing enough to protect their personnel. In particular, she said the agencies should not terminate the contracts of staff members who have been detained. She also said they should not remove the names of missing staff from official lists.

According to the Staff Union President, 65 United Nations people were killed in the line of duty last year, 55 were detained or disappeared, while 47 were abducted and held hostage. Many more were subjected to assault, injury, battery and rape. "We need better security for staff in the field. We agree with the UN Security Coordinator when he says all missions should have security component budgeted into the mission cost."

Ms. Waters called on all governments to sign and ratify the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to participate in a meeting early next year on the security of international civil servants.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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