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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-02-03
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Tuesday, 3 February 1998
This daily news round-up is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information. The latest update is posted at approximately 6:00 PM New York time.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reiterated the need to find a negotiated solution to the current standoff in Iraq. The Secretary-General called Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, on Tuesday to discuss the crisis arising from Iraq's refusal to allow United Nations weapons inspectors into certain sites. According to United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard, the Secretary-General initiated the call "in order to discuss with the Deputy Prime Minister the seriousness of the situation and the need to get results". The Secretary-General described the conversation as "constructive" and said that the two had agreed on the need to speed up efforts to find a negotiated solution to the problem. Meanwhile, the technical evaluation meeting on missile warhead- related issues began on Sunday, followed by another technical evaluation meeting on chemical weapons on Monday. The meetings are expected to last for about five days each. Experts from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) are participating in these meetings. The groups include additional experts from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany. In a related development, some of the United Nations staff members involved in the oil- for-food programme in Iraq have moved into designated hotels, as requested by Iraqi officials.
The United Nations Compensation Commission has awarded an additional $5,406,161 to 61 claimants who have suffered financial loss due to Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The money will go to individual claims for damages above $100,000 which were filed by 19 Governments and one international organization representing those not in a position to file their claims through Governments. The payments are financed through the "oil-for-food" programme, which allows Iraq to use oil revenues to fund humanitarian relief for the country. Thirty per cent of the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales are used for the Compensation Fund. In a recent report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended raising the amount of oil Iraq can sell from $2 billion worth of petroleum and petroleum products every six months to $5.2 billion for the same period. If his recommendations are accepted by the Security Council, the Compensation Fund would receive an additional $1.5 billion. Meeting this week in Geneva, the Commission's Governing Council set aside resources to cover its own operating expenses for three and a half years. The Commission also decided that the payment of awards to claimants who have acquired or applied for refugee status, and who do not wish to be paid through the Governments that had originally submitted their claims, may be made through a designated international organization. The Council also decided that funds paid to Governments but not distributed to claimants should, after one year, be returned to the Commission to be held for future payment once those claimants are located. The next session of the Council will be held from 9 to 11 March 1998.
The Central African Republic has responded positively to recommendations by Secretary-General Kofi Annan concerning the establishment of a peacekeeping operation in the country. "Mr. Kofi Annan's recommendations for a peacekeeping operation that would replace the Inter- African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB) have my full agreement," President Ange- F‚lix Patass‚ wrote in a letter to the President of the Security Council released on Tuesday. The Bangui Agreements, signed in January 1997, constitute the framework for achieving national reconciliation in the Central African Republic. They call, in part, for the formation of a government of national union; the adoption of an amnesty law; disarmament; and the organization of a national reconciliation conference. While MISAB has been working to monitor these Agreements, it cannot continue to do so on its own because France, which contributes more than 1,400 troops to the Mission, will pull them out by mid-April. The Secretary-General says that the primary purpose of the proposed United Nations force in the Central African Republic would be to maintain stability in Bangui so that the peace process could continue to move forward. The new operation would seek to maintain the security established by MISAB and create an environment conducive to holding elections in August/September. Later this week, the Security Council is expected to take up the issue of MISAB, whose mandate expires on 6 February. The President of the Central African Republic is recommending that MISAB's mandate be extended for five weeks "in order to prevent any disruption between the departure of the inter-African force and the deployment of a United Nations operation". In its latest report to the Security Council, MISAB similarly recommends that the Council extend its mandate "for a period of one or two months" to allow time to make arrangements for the deployment of a multinational force in the country.
The General Assembly working group on Security Council reform has resumed its meetings under the chairmanship of General Assembly President Hennadiy Udovenko of Ukraine. The group is formally known as the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council. It will meet this week to discuss its programme of work, and is scheduled to focus on substantive matters next week, from 10 to 13 February. Alex Taukatch, the Spokesman for the Assembly President, said that in addressing the group on Tuesday morning, Mr. Udovenko expressed hope that the current session would help to move the process forward. Citing difficult issues facing the delegates, Mr. Udovenko felt that they should not stand in the way of a substantive, results- oriented and productive discussion. In that context, the Assembly President recalled a popular saying in his country that "he who is afraid of wolves does not go into the forest."
Warning of a potentially explosive situation in the Kosovo part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the President of Albania has asked the United Nations Secretary-General for assistance in defusing the tension. Speaking to reporters after meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday, President Rexhep Meidani said he wants help in increasing international pressure on Serbia to resolve the conflict as soon as possible. The President called for international involvement to avoid "a tremendous explosion in the region, an explosion which will involve not only Albania, but all the countries there -- the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey". He warned that, "If we lose time, I can say that not a second Bosnia, but a second 'super-Bosnia' will happen there." President Meidani said he would welcome long-term attention to the problem. "It will be quite positive also if a mission of the United Nations would be present permanently in Kosovo," he said.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) on Tuesday welcomed a new "common position" recently adopted by the European Union supporting UNDCP anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan. Noting that Afghanistan currently supplies more than half of the world's heroin, UNDCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi said the momentum for addressing the problem is building. He stressed that with the recent Taliban agreement negotiated by the United Nations to ban opium cultivation, combined with the support of the European Union, the United States, and other major donors for alternative development projects in Afghanistan, "we have the opportunity to eradicate all illicit poppy cultivation within five to ten years." Adopted on 26 January by the European Union's General Affairs Council, the common position supports the efforts of the United Nations Drug Control Programme "aimed at reducing substantially the production, trafficking and abuse of drugs in Afghanistan". The Union also supports alternative development as an "important component of a balanced and comprehensive drug control strategy". The European Union will review drug control objectives when considering contributions to development aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan, according to its common position.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced on Tuesday that he was appointing Kensaku Hogen of Japan as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, effective 16 March. Ambassador Hogen is currently the Director-General of the Foreign Service Training Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. In the course of his distinguished diplomatic and governmental career, Mr. Hogen has worked on a wide range of issues before the United Nations, as well as in public information areas. He directed the Foreign Press Division of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, as well as the Press and Information Section at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Hogen was the Director-General of the Middle East and African Affairs Bureau from 1995 to 1996. In that capacity, he directed Japanese foreign policy regarding the Middle East, in particular the peace process in that region, and was instrumental in developing Japanese policy on Africa. As the Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Bureau in the Foreign Ministry from 1987 to 1989, Mr. Hogen was responsible for relations with the United Nations and formulated Japanese policy on a variety of issues before the Organization.
The former Force Commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda is set to testify before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. General Romeo Dallaire, who was the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), will appear as a defence witness in the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu on Monday 23 February. Charges against Mr. Akayesu, former bourgmestre of Taba in the prefecture of Gitarama, include genocide and crimes against humanity. An amended indictment issued by the Prosecutor in June 1997 also charges Mr. Akeyesu with acts of sexual violence committed against female civilians during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Twenty-eight prosecution and three defence witnesses have already testified in the course of the trial, which began on 9 January 1997. General Dallaire will be testifying in the second phase of the trial. On 13 January 1998, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan partially waived the immunity of General Dallaire so that he could testify in the trial of Mr. Akayesu.
The head of the United Nations refugee agency continued her efforts to secure the release an agency official who is in captivity in North Ossetia. Vincent Cochetel of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was abducted by unidentified persons in Ossetia's capital, Vladikavkaz, last Thursday. UNHCR Spokesman Kris Janowski told the press on Tuesday that the High Commissioner for Refugees was "extremely worried". High Commissioner Sadako Ogata was quoted as saying that while refugee agency was prepared to take risks and had done so, there was limit. The High Commissioner has written to North Ossetia's President urging him to do his utmost to secure Vincent Cochetel's immediate release.
More children will be added to the ranks of child labourers on the African continent, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). A spokesman for the United Nations agency told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that at least one million new child labourers will be added to the total in Africa each year if current economic and social trends continue. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are about 80 million child labourers in Africa. This is a significant proportion of the world total, according to ILO. A three- day conference on child labour is scheduled to be held in Kampala, Uganda starting on Thursday.
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