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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-19

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Friday, 19 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.


  • General Assembly adopts resolution on Secretary-General's proposals for renewing United Nations: -- Establishes post of Deputy Secretary-General; -- Invites Member States to provide improved information to help United Nations prevent conflict and maintain peace and security; -- Creates a "dividend for development"; -- Seeks details on proposed revolving credit fund; -- Asks for examples of proposed shift to results-based budgeting; -- Calls for further elaboration of proposals on a Millennium Assembly; -- Requests recommendations on core resources for development activities; -- Gives UN Development Programme responsibilities for operational activities dealing with natural disasters; and -- Shuts down High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development in light of new arrangements. _OTHER DEVELOPMENTS_:
  • Security Council extends United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina until 21 June 1998.
  • Security Council establishes civilian police support group to monitor Croatian police in Danube region.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia withdraws indictments against three Croats.
  • Security Council Committee on Angola issues its first list of senior UNITA officials affected by sanctions.
  • General Assembly calls on States to end military support for parties in Afghanistan.
  • United Nations refugee agency looks for alternative sites for Congolese refugees in Rwanda following massacre.
  • UNHCR airlifts emergency relief supplies to the 123,000 refugees trapped by floods in north-eastern Kenya.
  • World Food Programme appeals for $12.8 million for aid to victims of civil strife in northern Uganda.

Applause reverberated in the General Assembly Hall on Friday following the adoption, without a vote, of a wide-ranging resolution on "renewing the United Nations: a programme for reform".

"Together, we are making this a Reform Assembly", Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Assembly. "We have every right to take great pride in these achievements. They speak well of the capacity of the United Nations to reform itself, where reform means embracing fundamental measures that strengthen the Organization and augment its efficacy."

The President of the General Assembly, Hennadiy Udovenko of Ukraine, said agreement on the resolution was the result of intensive negotiations which were "not always smooth and easy". The result, however, was a "vivid example of the ability of the United Nations and, in particular, its General Assembly, as the most representative organ, to adapt itself to the changing international environment, find adequate responses to the new challenges, and successfully accomplish substantial transformations of its activities".

Under the new reforms, the United Nations will have a Deputy Secretary- General as an integral part of the Office of the Secretary-General who will assist the Secretary-General in managing the operations of the Secretariat.

"I will move immediately to appoint a Deputy Secretary-General, following consultations with Member States, and very much hope that she will join us early in the new year", the Secretary-General said.

The Deputy will support the Secretary-General in ensuring coherence of activities and programmes and "in elevating the profile and leadership of the United Nations in the economic and social spheres", and as a leading centre for development policy and development assistance.

Other duties of the Deputy Secretary-General will include acting for the Secretary-General at United Nations Headquarters in his or her absence. The Deputy will also represent the head of the United Nations at conferences, official functions and ceremonial occasions. The Deputy Secretary- General may also undertake other assignments as determined by the Secretary- General.

The Deputy will be appointed by the Secretary-General following consultations with Member States for a term not to exceed that of the Secretary-General.

In the area of peace, security and disarmament, the Assembly invited Member States to improve the supply of information to the Secretary-General that could assist the Organization "to prevent conflict and maintain international peace and security" in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

The Secretary-General said this will "improve the ability of the Organization to detect potential threats to international peace and security".

The Assembly asked for consideration of specific measures on enhancing the rapid deployment capacity of the United Nations in peacekeeping operations.

The Security Council was invited to consider the recommendation that, in establishing a peacekeeping operation in the future, it should prescribe a time-frame for the conclusion of the status-of-forces agreement between the United Nations and the host Government. Pending the conclusion of such an agreement, a model status-of-forces agreement would apply provisionally "unless otherwise agreed by the parties concerned".

The Assembly established a development account to be funded from savings from possible reductions in administration and other overhead costs. It requested the Secretary-General to submit a detailed report on the matter by the end of March 1998.

The Secretary-General proposed the creation of a "dividend for development" by using savings realized from reducing overhead. "The responsibility for delivering the 'dividend for development' rests with individual managers throughout the Organization, who have already demonstrated their commitment to reducing costs, as well as a capacity for innovative thinking", the Secretary-General wrote. He proposed that the development account be established at an initial level of $12.7 million.

The Assembly reaffirmed that all Member States have an obligation to pay their dues "in full, on time and without conditions". At the same time, it requested the Secretary-General to submit detailed proposals by the end of March 1998 on the establishment of a revolving credit fund.

"The purpose of the revolving credit fund would be to relieve cash flow pressures on the functioning of the United Nations", the Secretary- General said. As an immediate, practical measure, he had initiallly called for the establishment of a revolving credit fund with up to $1 billion to be used to make up the budget shortfall.

The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report on his proposal to shift United Nations programme budgeting towards a system of results-based budgeting. He was asked to explain the methodology to be used and to provide a mock-up of one or more sections of the budget for consideration.

According to a report by the Secretary-General, the key feature of results- based budgeting is that "the emphasis is on the outputs to be produced (reports, studies, conferences, etc.) and consequent outcomes, as opposed to input budgeting where the defining feature is an emphasis on the inputs (staff, materials, equipment, etc.)". He says that such a system would make managers responsible and accountable, while making their tasks more interesting and challenging.

The General Assembly recognized that "reform of the United Nations will be an ongoing process and that there is a need for the United Nations to consider changes of a more fundamental nature and other broader issues". It invited the Secretary-General to elaborate a number of his proposals, including "a new concept of trusteeship". In his proposal for reform, the Secretary-General had referred to the exercise by Member States of their collective trusteeship for the integrity of the global environment.

Another proposal which solicited calls for greater elaboration was that for a Millennium Assembly. The Secretary-General had called for the convening of such an Assembly in the year 2000 to help prepare the United Nations for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Recognizing the urgent need for resources for development on a predictable, continuous and assured basis, the Assembly requested that the Secretary- General submit, by the end of March 1998, specific proposals for the establishment of a new system of core resources, taking into account the views expressed by Member States.

The Economic and Social Council was requested to consider a closer integration of the governance oversight of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund (which currently share their Executive Board) as well as the United Nations Children's Fund.

The Assembly gave responsibilities for dealing at the operational level with natural disasters to the United Nations Development Programme "with the understanding that the resources for this task will be separate and additional to the resources" for development activities. For the next two years, those activities will be funded by a grant from the regular budget. The Secretary-General was requested to report by the end of the session on how to finance them after that.

The Assembly also decided that the Economic and Social Council should consider humanitarian affairs in a separate, annual segment starting next year.

The Assembly also decided to discontinue the High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development, in light of the fact that new arrangements have been made by the Commission on Sustainable Development for consultations with civil society.
The Security Council has decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) until 21 June 1998.

In resolution 1144 (1997), unanimously adopted on Friday, the Council said that the extension of the current mandate, which expires on 21 December, would be further extended unless there are significant changes in security arrangements provided by the NATO-led multinational stabilization force (SFOR).

The Council also decided that the International Police Task Force (IPTF) will continue its tasks related to the inter-boundary line and related issues, as set out in the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Reaffirming that the successful implementation of the tasks of the IPTF rests on the quality, experience, and professional skill of its personnel, the Council urged Member States, with the support of the Secretary-General to ensure provision of such personnel.

Recognizing that resources are critical to the success of the police reform efforts of the IPTF, the Security Council also urged Member States to provide training, equipment and related assistance for local police forces in coordination with the IPTF. It called upon all concerned to ensure the closest possible coordination among the Office of the High Representative, SFOR, UNMIBH and the relevant bodies to ensure the successful implementation of the Peace Agreement and the priority objectives of the civilian consolidation plans, as well as the security of the IPTF.

The Council expressed its support for the conclusions of the Bonn Peace Implementation Conference and encouraged the Secretary-General to pursue implementation of its relevant recommendations, in particular on the restructuring of the IPTF.

The Security Council also requested the Secretary-General to keep it informed regularly about the work of the IPTF, to report every three months on the implementation of UNMIBH as a whole, and to include in his first report, action taken to restructure the IPTF, particularly the creation of a specialized unit to train Bosnian police.

Before adopting the resolution, the Council held a two-day debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two years after the signing of the General Framework Agreement on Peace.

The Security Council has decided to establish a civilian police support group to monitor the performance of Croatian police in connection with the return of displaced persons in the Danube region.

The Council took the decision by resolution 1145 (1997), which was unanimously adopted on Friday afternoon.

In its resolution, the Council decided that the establishment of the group of 180 civilian police monitors for a single period of up to nine months will take effect on 16 January 1998, in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary-General and in response to the request of the Croatian Government.

The Security Council also decided that the support group will assume responsibility for those former personnel of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) and United Nations-owned assets needed for its use in fulfilment of its mandate.

Reminding Croatia of its responsibility for the security and freedom of movement of all civilian police monitors and other international personnel, the Council requested the Croatian Government to provide all necessary support to the monitors.

It reiterated its previous call to all the States in the region, including the Government of Croatia to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. The council also recalled its encouragement by the increased cooperation of the Croatian Government with the Tribunal.

Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Croatia, the Council emphasized that the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium is an integral part of the country.

The Security Council urged Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to pursue further normalization of their relations, especially in the areas of cross-border confidence-building measures, demilitarization and dual nationality.

The Council emphasized the continuing obligation of Croatia, under the Basic Agreement on the Region, signed on 12 November 1995 by the Republic of Croatia and the local Serb community, and international conventions, to allow all refugees an displaced persons to return in safety to their homes throughout Croatia. The Security Council also emphasized the urgency and importance of the two-way return of all displaced persons in Croatia.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has withdrawn indictments against three Croats who had been suspected of war crimes.

Judges of the Tribunal on Friday granted the Prosecutor's request to withdraw the indictments issued in November 1995 against Marinko Katava, Ivan Santic and Pero Skopljak.

The three men were in the Tribunal's custody in the Hague since their voluntary surrender on 6 October 1997. Following further investigations by her Office the Prosecutor, Judge Louise Arbour, concluded that there was insufficient basis to justify proceeding to trial against the men.

On 18 December Justice Arbour filed Motions for the release of the accused. The Judges considered the matter urgent and held hearings on Friday afternoon. They ordered the release of the three men "in the interests of justice".

Practical arrangements have been made with the Dutch and Croatian authorities in the Hague for the release of the three men on Friday and their return on Saturday.

A committee established by the Security Council in 1993 to monitor punitive measures imposed on the Angolan opposition party has issued the first list of the officials facing travel restrictions.

In accordance with Security Council resolution 1127 adopted on 28 August 1997, the Committee on Friday issued the first list of the officials of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), whose entry or transit is to be prevented by all States. Travel documents, visas or residence permits of those officials are to be suspended, in accordance with the Security Council resolution.

The list is being transmitted to Member States and international organizations or agencies for their information and use as necessary. A statement of the Security Council Committee says that the list will be updated on a regular basis.

The Committee is currently considering additional names provided to it, including adult members of the immediate families of senior officials of UNITA.

The Committee, consisting of all the members of the Council, was established to undertake a number of tasks regarding the implementation of resolution 864 1993 which imposed measures against UNITA. Those measures include the prohibition of all sale or supply to UNITA of arms and related material and military assistance; petroleum and petroleum product.

The Security Council also decided that all States should prevent the sale or supply, by their nationals or from their territories or use of their flag vessels or aircraft, to transport arms and related material of all types, including weapons, ammunition, military vehicles, and spare parts, as well as petroleum products whether or not they originate in their territory to Angola other than through named points of entry on a list supplied by the Angolan Government to the Secretary-General.

Resolution 1127 of 1997 imposed additional measures to restrict travel by UNITA because of the party's failure to carry out all of its obligations under the peace agreement for Angola.

Calling upon all States to refrain from any outside interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the General Assembly has condemned foreign military support to the Afghan parties.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly called on all States concerned to immediately end the supply of arms, ammunition, military equipment, training or any other military support to all parties to the conflict including the presence and involvement of foreign military personnel.

The Assembly further called upon all Afghan parties to cease immediately all armed hostilities, renounce the use of force and engage, without preconditions, in a political dialogue aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict. It requested the Secretary-General to authorize the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan to continue its support for national reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, resulting in an immediate and durable cease-fire and leading to the formation of a fully representative, broad- based transitional government of national unity.

The Assembly also denounced the continuing discrimination against girls and women and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan. It called upon all Afghan parties to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, in particular of women and girls.

The Secretary-General was asked by the Assembly to continue to investigate fully reports about mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians as well as incidents of rape in Afghanistan.

The United Nations refugee agency is looking for alternative sites for refugees of the Mudende camp following the massacre there last week, the agency's Spokeswoman announced on Friday.

Pam O'Toole told the press in Geneva that officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be going to Rwanda's northeast Byumba prefecture on Friday to look at possible sites for the relocation of the refugees.

The UNHCR Spokeswoman said there has been a series of meetings this week between representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rwandan Government and UNHCR in Gisenyi, Rwanda, to discuss the future of the refugees. Although the United Nations refugee agency had expected high- level meetings, Ms. O'Toole added, the meetings held this week turned out to be at a lower-level.

Ms. O'Toole told reporters that Congo-Kinshasa is still saying that it wants the refugees to go back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, Ms. O'Toole said, the Masisi area where they come from, is still "highly unstable".

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has said that should the people go back, they would be housed in temporary "collective structures". Ms. O'Toole pointed out that "it is still not clear exactly where these would be or what they would be."

For the time being, the UNHCR is saying that before organizing any repatriation, it will have to be sure that the area is safe. "We don't want to be involved in any kind of repatriation to an area that is unsafe", Ms. O'Toole said, adding that the agency would not encourage voluntary repatriation to an unsafe area.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched an airlift of emergency relief supplies to north-eastern Kenya, where refugees have been trapped by floods.

Using its own emergency fund, UNHCR began with a delivery of five metric tonnes of high protein biscuits from Nairobi to ensure that the mainly Somali refugees have adequate supplies of emergency food rations. Using a Hawker-Siddley 748 based in Garissa, the United Nations refugee agency will be ferrying food, shelter items, medicines and other necessities into the camps.

"This airlift will ensure that much needed items reach the refugees to ward off disaster", said UNHCR representative Yvette Stevens. She said that food shortages in the camps are looming due to the lack of overland access.

Since late November, record rains in north-eastern Kenya have caused floods which have washed away whole stretches of road in the semi-arid desert region. Road repairs cannot begin across the desolate area until the water- laden sands can support the weight of heavy earth-moving equipment. The operation also require commitment of police anti-bandit units to ward off attacks.

It is reported that herds of goats around the camp are dying at a rate of sixty animals a day due to rain-induced pneumonia that is afflicting livestock. Other livestock and chickens have also died in the floods, creating further health hazards.

The situation has been compounded by the flooding of more than 2,600 latrines causing human waste to mix with flood waters. The organization of volunteer doctors known as Medicins sans Frontiers-Belgium reports a sharp increase in malaria and diarrhoea among the refugees. The organization reports, however, that to date, no outbreaks of cholera have been reported.

The three camps affected -- Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera -- require some 1, 780 metric tonnes of food a month.

The World Food Programme also plans to provide a cargo aircraft to the Dadaab airlift operation.

The UNHCR says that if the rains halt immediately, it will take until February to re-open overland routes serving the region.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for $12.8 million for emergency food aid to the victims of civil strife in Northern Uganda.

In its second relief operation in Northern Uganda this year, WFP will provide 21,044 tonnes of maize meal, pulses, oil, corn-soya blend, salt, and sugar to cover the needs of the displaced persons during the six-month period before the next harvest.

WFP says that the food will go to 257,600 Acholi people who have been internally displaced or fled to camps in the districts of Gulu and Kitgum. The recipients include 65,00 school-age children and more than 4,000 orphans. According to WFP, almost half of the households in the area are headed by women.

The Ugandan People's Defence Forces have secured routes into the north to avoid the damage caused by land mines. During the earlier operation, land mines destroyed several of the trucks transporting 9,766 tonnes of WFP aid to 110,000 displaced persons.

The aims of the new operation are to provide displaced persons with a basic diet, improve the nutritional status of malnourished women and children through supplementary feeding and to encourage primary school attendance by providing school lunches.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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