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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-12

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 12 August, 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.


  • World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth concludes with adoption Lisbon Declaration.
  • Head of atomic energy agency says restrictions imposed by Iraq are reducing ability to carry out its work.
  • A United Nations spokesman reports progress in negotiations between the United Nations and Taliban.
  • World Food Programme plane will stop in Nairobi to deliver medical supplies for bomb blast victims in east Africa.
  • International Court of Justice fixes dates for submission of statements on immunity for human rights official.
  • Officials of Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia are set to visit war crimes detainees in the Hague.

Representatives of 146 States on Wednesday concluded the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth with the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes.

The adoption of the declaration was the culmination of more than a decade- long effort to raise youth policy to a level of prominence on the national and international agendas and to strengthen national and global actions in support of young people.

Under the declaration, governments committed themselves to ensure that national youth policy formulation, implementation and follow-up processes are dealt with at the highest policy levels. They also committed to implement the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 200 and Beyond by developing national youth policies and operational programmes.

Governments also agreed to recognize the importance of general health care including reproductive health care. They pledged to establish a dependable database on youth reproductive health and to provide access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable legal methods of family planning of their choice. Recognizing that the consumption of tobacco and the abuse of alcohol by young people posed a major threat to their health, governments also agreed that each country would develop comprehensive programmes to reduce the consumption of tobacco, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and the abuse of alcohol.

The ministers said that they will ensure and encourage active participation of youth in all spheres of society and in decision-making processes at the national, regional and international levels.

During the conference, which started on 8 August, delegations discussed a number of problems affecting the youth such unemployment, sexual abuse, exploitation, drug abuse and unwarranted pregnancies. Several ministers from the developing countries emphasized the complex situation facing their nations. In addition to other youth-related problems, they cited the costs of armed conflicts, violence and population displacement which continue to drain the already limited resources of these countries.

In other action the Conference, which was convened by Portugal in cooperation with the United Nations, proposed the proclamation of 12 August as an international youth day.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the restrictions imposed by Iraq have limited the agency's ability to investigate the country's clandestine nuclear programme.

In a letter to the President of the Security Council, dated 11 August 1998, IAEA Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei confirms that his agency is carrying out a limited implementation of its ongoing monitoring and verification plan.

The letter draws the attention of the Council to the fact that the effectiveness of the implementation of the IAEA plan is critically dependent on the full exercise of the rights of access enshrined in the plan. It adds that any diminution of, or interference with, those rights would greatly reduce the level of assurance provided through the implementation of the plan.

The Director General of IAEA observes that Iraq's refusal to cooperate in any activity involving investigation of its clandestine nuclear programme makes it impossible for the agency to investigate the remaining questions and concerns relevant to that programme.

He also observes that Iraq's withdrawal of cooperation makes it impossible for the IAEA to exercise its right to investigate any other aspect of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme and to destroy, remove, or render harmless any prohibited items that may be discovered through such investigations.

The letter says that the restrictions imposed by Iraq have resulted in the discontinuation of a joint IAEA/United Nations Special Commission programme of inspection of Iraqi sites which are judged to have capabilities to conduct work on some aspects of weapons of mass destruction.

The head of the IAEA says that he is awaiting instructions from the Council on how to proceed.

A United Nations spokesman on Wednesday reported that progress has been made in negotiations between the United Nations and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said that following the talks held in Kabul last week, a "concrete" agreement has been reached to allow expelled staff members of international non-governmental organizations to return and resume their activities in Kabul.

The Spokesman added that a commission of the Taliban and the non- governmental organizations has been established, "thanks to UN good offices", to discuss related issues.

Mr. Brandt said that there were ongoing negotiations on a number of outstanding issues including female employment and access to education and health. Another issue relates to a report on the investigation into the killing of two staff members in Jalalabad last month. He said that there were "positive signs" on the outcome of the discussions on these issues.

The United Nations food agency said on Wednesday that a plane flying technicians for its food aid operation in southern Sudan will stop in Nairobi to deliver medical supplies for the victims of the bomb blasts at United States embassies in east Africa.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said that a Belgian Air Force C-130 will deliver 1.7 metric tonnes of emergency medical supplies picked up from the stores of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the city of Pisa in Italy. WFP said the plane will also pick up 1.5 tonnes of Norwegian-made high protein biscuits from its stocks in Pisa.

WFP said that the C-130 aircraft was en route to Lokichoggio in northwestern Kenya from where the agency flies food aid to southern Sudan as part of Operation Lifeline Sudan, a joint effort of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.

The plane carrying a six-member flight assistance team is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi on Thursday and in Lokichoggio on Friday. The team has been provided by Belgium to augment air communications at Likichoggio during the peak air aid operation in southern Sudan.

The acting President of the International Court of Justice has issued an order fixing the dates for the submission of statements related to the difference of opinion between the United Nations and Malaysia regarding immunity for a United Nations human rights official.

Judge Shigeru Oda, fixed 7 October 1998 as the time-limit for the submission of written statements to the Court and 6 November 1998 for the written comments on other written statements.

The case in question relates to Dato Param Cumaraswamy of Malaysia who has been sued for damages filed in Malaysian courts by plaintiffs who assert that he made defamatory statements. The lawsuits follow an interview which Mr. Cumaraswamy gave to International Commercial Litigation in November 1995.

Mr. Cumaraswamy was in 1994 appointed Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The commission is an organ of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

After the lawsuit was filed, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, acting on behalf of the Secretary-General determined that Mr. Cumaraswamy had spoken in his official capacity as Special Rapporteur. He pointed out that under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, Mr. Cumaraswamy was immune from legal process.

The United Nations Secretary-General confirmed that determination and identical certificates of the Special Rapporteur's immunities were issued when the lawsuits were filed. However, according to the Secretary-General, these notes did not lead to any appropriate intervention by the Malaysian Government to ensure respect for Mr. Cumaraswamy's immunity, nor were they taken into consideration by the Malaysian courts.

Considering that a difference had arisen between the United Nations and the Government of Malaysia regarding Mr. Cumaraswamy's immunity, on 5 August 1998 ECOSOC adopted a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on the matter. The request was received from the Secretary-General by the Registry of the Court on 10 August 1998.

The Government of Malaysia has indicated that it does not oppose the submission of the matter to the Court and that it would make its own presentations.

Officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have accepted the invitation to visit the war crimes suspects held in the United Nations Detention Unit north of The Hague.

A United Nations spokesman announced on Wednesday that the President and the Registrar of the tribunal are scheduled to visit the detainees on Friday.

At their initiative, a delegation of the detainees had met with the Tribunal's Spokesman in the United Nations Detention Unit on Monday and Wednesday. The detainees expressed the wish to publicly set the record straight about their conditions of detention by issuing an open letter to the President of the Tribunal signed by all the twenty six detainees.

In that letter, the detainees denied reports in the media depicting them as depressed and preparing for riots. "These reports do not have substance," the detainees said, stressing that they are "in a better position than anyone else to say that reports of this kind are complete nonsense and lies."

The media reports followed the deaths of two detainees and an account of the conditions of detention given by a Serb doctor who visited the tribunal last week.

The detainees reiterated the request they made in a letter dated 3 August. In that letter they requested a daily medical care, more fresh air and exercise, more and better food, better accommodation for the visits by their immediate family and lawyers, and, if possible, TV and radio programmes from their own countries.

The detainees point out that they have also prepared a separate document in which they identify five "crucial issues." Those issues concern the need for fair and speedy trials, the inequality of resources available to the prosecution over the defence the biased publicity given to their cases by concentrating on the prosecution, the improvement of their conditions of detention and the lack of care in examining indictments before issuing arrest warrants.

"Far from being depressed, we are seeking ways to increase our hope and faith that it is worth fighting for justice and truth," the letter concludes.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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