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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-18

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 18 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.


  • Prosecutor for International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia welcomes Stabilization Force arrest of two indicted persons.
  • Bosnian Ambassador stresses importance of International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in address to Security Council.
  • United Nations Verification Mission will continue monitoring peace agreements in Guatemala through end of 1998.
  • General Assembly renews mandate of the United Nations component of Civilian Mission in Haiti.
  • General Assembly calls on States to locate, remove and destroy landmines and booby-traps as soon as possible.
  • Compromise leads to consensus on development resolutions adopted by General Assembly.
  • Governing Council of the UN Compensation Commission approves $2.2 million for claims arising from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
  • Resistant strains of bacteria are a growing health problem in Europe, according to World Health Organization.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has welcomed the detention by the Stabilization Force (SFOR) of two indictees accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

Commenting on the arrest of Vlatko Kupreskic and Anto Furundzija by members of the Stabilization Force on Thursday, Justice Louise Arbour said that without such action, the Tribunal could not fully discharge its mandate.

Noting the dangers inherent in these operations and the professionalism with which they have to be conducted, Justice Arbour said that SFOR troops have proven their competence in these difficult operations. A similar operation was conducted in Prijedor last July.

The Prosecutor expressed confidence that the mandate given to SFOR will permit interventions in the future. She invited all the remaining indicted accused to surrender themselves to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal by contacting SFOR. Judge Arbour also called on all government authorities in the former Yugoslavia to immediately arrest indictees under their jurisdiction.

The initial appearance for Anto Furundzija is scheduled before the Tribunal's Trial Chamber II on Friday to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. No date has been set yet for Vlatko Kupreskic's initial appearance.

Mr. Furundzija is charged with one count of Grave Breach of the Geneva Conventions (torture or inhumane treatment) and with two counts of Violations of the Laws or customs of war (torture and outrages upon personal dignity, including rape).

The indictment of Mr. Furundzija refers to attacks by forces of the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna of villages "chiefly inhabited by Bosnian Muslims in the Lasva River valley" in Central Bosnia in 1993. Mr. Furundzija, who was a commander of a special forces group called the "Jokers" based in Vitez, had gone to the area to question two prisoners who were being mistreated by another member of the Jokers. He was also reportedly present while a prisoner was sexually assaulted and he did nothing to stop that action.

Vlatko Kupresic, who was injured during the arrest, is charged with three counts of Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions (unlawful and wanton destruction of property not justified by military necessity, wilful killing, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body and health) and three counts of Violations of the Laws or customs of war (deliberate attack on the civilian population and wanton destruction of a village, murder, cruel treatment of civilians).

The two indictees have already been transferred to the ICTY Detention Unit in the Hague.

The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muhamed Sacirbey, told the Security Council on Thursday that the most critical of all United Nations activities in a had been the establishment of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He expressed confidence in the Prosecutor, but expressed concern about recent reports that indicated a lack of respect or even disdain for the Tribunal's mandate. It was especially disquieting, he said, if that disregard had come from some countries around the Security Council table who had been instrumental in establishing the Tribunal, as well as in reaching the Dayton accords.

The Council was meeting to consider a draft resolution by which it would extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the International Police Task Force, through 21 June 1998.

"Increasingly the United Nations is being asked to play an ever more prominent role in securing and enhancing the peace in Bosnia", Mr. Sacirbey said. And let me emphasize here, that over the last two years, peace has borne positive fruit and we are confident of an improving dynamics. We welcome the extension of the mandate of the multilateral force led by NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina beyond the deadline of the summer of 1998.

Ambassador Sergey V. Lavrov of the Russian Federation voiced support for a future United Nations presence in Bosnia to peace-building and confidence building efforts. However, he said that recent "unilateral" actions taken by troops serving with the NATO-led SFOR which went beyond the mandate given it by the Council, threatened the lives of peace- keepers and the peace process itself. While justice must win, he said, it must be won through legitimate efforts.

French Ambassador Alain Dejammet said continued international assistance must be linked to the cooperation of the parties with the implementation of the General Framework Agreement at all levels. That huge effort could not lead to lasting restoration of peace unless the necessary reforms were undertaken and central institutions were able to function in a more acceptable way. Progress was still needed in strengthening democratization and in the struggle against corruption.

The General Assembly on Thursday decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) through 31 December 1998, at a cost of approximately $28.2 million.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan had originally recommended that the General Assembly renew the mandate through the end of 1999, which would have cost an estimated $61 million.

The Mission is charged with monitoring the peace agreements signed by the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG). By its resolution, adopted without a vote, the Assembly called upon the parties to continue to implement their commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement of Human Rights and other peace agreements. The parties as well as all sectors of Guatemalan society were urged to strengthen efforts toward consensus building, reconciliation and development.

Under another resolution adopted without a vote on Thursday, the Assembly called for international support to MINUGUA. It also requested the Secretary-General to continue supporting the efforts of Central American governments to consolidate peace and democracy through a new, comprehensive sustainable development programme and the initiative to establish the Central American Union.

The Assembly also encouraged Central American governments to implement the social programme to overcome poverty and unemployment, establish a more just and equitable society, improve public safety, consolidate a modern and transparent public administration, and eliminate corruption, impunity, acts of terrorism, and drug and arms trafficking.

The General Assembly has authorised the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations component of the International Civilian Mission to Haiti until 31 December 1998.

In a resolution adopted by consensus on Thursday, the Assembly reaffirmed the international community's commitment to continue technical, economic and financial cooperation with Haiti in support of its economic and social development.

The Assembly also reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen institutions responsible for dispensing justice and guaranteeing democracy, respect for human rights, political stability and economic development.

Among the tasks, the mission will provide, at the request of the Haitian Government, technical assistance in the field of institution- building, such as the training of the police and support for judicial reform and the establishment of an impartial judiciary.

It will also provide support for the development of a programme to promote and protect human rights, establish a climate of freedom and tolerance favourable to the consolidation of long-term constitutional democracy in Haiti, and contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions.

The mission will verify full observance by Haiti of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Strongly supporting the leadership of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the Organization of American States in Haiti, the General Assembly encouraged further cooperation between the International Civilian Mission and the United Nations and others participating in institution- building, including police training activities.

The General Assembly on Thursday called upon Member States to locate, remove, destroy or otherwise render ineffective minefields, mines, booby- traps and other devices in accordance with international law, as soon as possible.

By a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly also urged States, non- governmental organizations and others to assist mine-afflicted countries. They were also urged to promote scientific research and development on humanitarian mine-clearance techniques and technology so that mine- clearance activities may be carried out more safely and effectively at lower costs.

Members of the international community were also urged to provide the Secretary-General with information and resources that could be useful in strengthening the coordination role of the United Nations in the field of mine awareness, training, surveying, mine detection and clearance, scientific research on mine-detection and clearance technology, and information on and distribution of medical equipment and supplies.

"The international community has come to realize that only an integrated and holistic response to the issue of landmine contamination, and its multifaceted humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, is capable of bringing real and lasting benefits to those who are considered at risk from those weapons", Secretary-General Kofi Annan writes in his latest report on the subject. He stresses that "it is time to define the extent and breadth of the mine problem once and for all". A more precise global assessment of the mine problem "will result in a dynamic list of opportunities for mine action across the spectrum of risk reduction, mine clearance, and victim assistance".

The report details United Nations activities in a number of countries, including Cambodia, where 50 per cent of the country is still afflicted by an estimated 4 to 6 million landmines. The largest mine- action programme is in Afghanistan. Over the past nine years, the programme has resulted in the destruction of over one-half million explosive items. Mine-awareness briefings were given to 3.2 million people, according to the report.

A compromise on language paved the way for the General Assembly to adopt six resolutions on development that had been voted on by its Economic and Financial (Second) Committee.

The resolutions, which in draft form had all been opposed by the United States during voting in the Committee, all contained the words "sustained economic growth and sustainable development". The compromise was reached by adding the phrase "in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions and recent United Nations conferences" to each of the texts.

The resolutions concerned topics on which the Committee traditionally worked on the basis of consensus: industrial development, human resources development, women in development, renewal of the dialogue for development through partnership, external debt problem of developing countries, and global financial flows and their impact on developing countries.

In all, the Assembly adopted 32 draft proposals and 11 draft decisions -- two by recorded votes -- recommended by its Economic and Financial Committee.

Acting on environment and sustainable development, the Assembly called on the United Nations system to contribute further to a comprehensive approach and study of the El Nino phenomenon, and to intensify its cooperation with the regions affected by the phenomenon, especially developing countries, small island States and landlocked countries. The Secretary-General was requested to facilitate an international strategy for the prevention, mitigation and rehabilitation of the damages caused by El Nino.

The Assembly also adopted a text on business and development, introduced and sponsored by Venezuela, which called on the United Nations funds and programmes to strengthen support for promoting entrepreneurship. It also said consideration should be given to the role of the private sector in development. That text had been the subject of a no-action motion in the Committee.

The Assembly also decided to convene a two-day resumed session of the Second Committee to solicit views from governments on the issue of financing for development. It further decided to consider, in 1999, the convening of a summit, an international conference, a special session or other appropriate high-level forum on financing for development to further the global partnerships for development, not later than the year 2001.

By another resolution, the Assembly decided to convene a three-day special session from 30 June to 2 July 1999 to review the Programme of Action adopted by the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, September 1994). It also decided to hold a special session in the year 2001 to review the outcome of the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (Istanbul, June 1996).

By another resolution, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was asked to continue to identify and analyse the implications for development of issues relevant to investment, taking into account the interests of developing countries.

The Assembly voted 137 in favour to 2 (Israel and the United States) against, with 14 abstentions to reaffirm the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land and water. It also voted to urge the international community to adopt measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries, that were not authorized by the United Nations or inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. The vote was 109 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 50 abstentions.

By another resolution, the Secretary-General was requested to report to the Assembly's 1999 session on ways and means to address the problems related to migration and development, including the possibility of convening an international conference on international migration and development.

The Assembly also called on the international donor community to strengthen existing emerging microcredit institutions in the developing countries, especially the least developed and the African countries. It encouraged all involved in poverty eradication programmes to consider incorporating microcredit schemes in their strategies.

The Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission has approved payment of more than $2 million to nine governments for damages caused by the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

The Council, which held its twenty-sixth session from 15 to 17 December 1997, under the Presidency of Ambassador Goncalo de Santa Clara of Portugal, considered eleven claims filed by nine Governments. It approved the report and recommendations of the Panel of Commissioners on the first instalment of eleven category "F" claims (Government claims) filed by nine governments. The panel recommended the award of $2,220,043 in compensation to the nine claims and deferred consideration of two claims to a future instalment.

At the opening plenary meeting, the Council heard statements by delegations of Kuwait and Iraq. During its session, the Council discussed the Executive Secretary's report on the activities of Commission from September to November 1997. It also considered the reports of Governments on the distribution of funds received from the Commission and a number of other issues related to the processing and payment of claims.

During the session the Governing Council's Committee on Administrative Matters (CAM) approved the biennial budget of the Commission for 1998/99 in accordance with an earlier decision to bring the Commission in line with the United Nations budget cycle.

The next session of the Council is scheduled for 9 to 11 March 1998.

Resistant strains of bacteria are a growing health problem in Europe and a cause of major concern to all countries in the region, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a press release on Thursday, WHO says that as Europe becomes more and more interconnected economically and socially, resistant bacteria are being increasingly transmitted between hospitals, regions and countries.

Aware of this growing problem, WHO, its Regional Office in Europe, and the Associazione Culturale Microbiologia Medica organized an international Workshop on Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Systems in Verona Italy on 12 December 1997. That workshop concluded that the problem of antimicrobial resistance cannot be addressed effectively by any one country or group working in isolation. Trans-European collaboration and cooperation are needed, participants at the Workshop said.

While noting that a concerted regional effort would be needed to successfully control the emergence and spread of resistant strains of bacteria in human and animal populations, the Workshop concluded that there were already several good surveillance programmes in Europe. One key element common to their success is their emphasis on well-defined and strictly-adhered to quality control, the participants said.

They noted that quality data captured by well designed and implemented surveillance efforts can be used to accurately study the spread of epidemics and to clinically interpret antimicrobial resistance. That, in turn, would strengthen existing systems and help in the development of efficient and effective programmes where they do not yet exist.

The participants agreed to hold further discussions in order to develop cooperation between programmes and to have more integrated surveillance. The focus of these discussions, WHO says, should begin with the development of common assurance standards in order to accurately define the antimicrobial resistance problems, and to generate compatible and complementary information on the status of the problem in the countries concerned. This, the participants pointed out, could facilitate the development of a network of public and private micro biological laboratories cooperating and collaborating on this major public health issue in Europe.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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