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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-24
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: email@example.com
Monday, 24 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.
The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict-torn Kosovo province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In a presidential statement issued on Monday, the Council said it remained gravely concerned about the recent intense fighting in Kosovo which has had a devastating impact on the civilian population and increased the number of refugees and displaced persons. It said that all violence and acts of terrorism from whatever quarter were unacceptable.
The Council emphasized the need for Yugoslav authorities and the Kosovo Albanians to achieve a political solution to the issue of Kosovo. It welcomed the announcement by Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the Kosovo Albanian community, of the formation of a negotiating team to represent the interests of the Kosovo community.
The Council said it shared the concern of the Secretary-General in his report on Kosovo, that the continuation or further escalation of the conflict in Kosovo has dangerous implications for the stability of the region.
It added that in particular, it was gravely concerned that the increasing numbers of displaced persons, coupled with the approaching winter could make the situation an "even greater humanitarian disaster" in Kosovo. It emphasized the importance of unhindered and continuous access of humanitarian organizations to the affected population.
"The Council reaffirms the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes" the statement said.
The Security Council also reaffirmed the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Security Council has insisted that the Iraqi decision to suspend cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors was totally unacceptable, the Council President, Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters following a briefing by the Secretary- General's Special Envoy for Iraq, the Council President said that there was no progress made by the envoy in his contacts with the Government of Iraq.
Ambassador Turk said that there was an extensive discussion of the Iraqi issue in the Council. He added that the discussion showed again "a very clear resolve" of the Security Council to insist on its position that the Iraqi decision to suspend cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was totally unacceptable and contravened the resolutions of the Security Council.
"It was again emphasized that the first step that is expected is a change in the Iraqi attitude" Ambassador Turk said. He stressed that Iraq had to rescind its decision.
Ambassador Turk pointed out that the Council continued to actively tackle the issue of the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and that several ideas were expressed in the Monday's discussions. He added, however, that so far, no specific proposal was made on ending the stalemate created by the Iraqi decision taken on 5 August to suspend all cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors.
The Secretary-General's Special Envoy told reporters that his mission to Iraq was to convey the message that Baghdad must comply with the Security Council decision. However, he said, the Iraqi authorities saw no reason to change their decision. He described his meeting with the Iraqi officials as very cordial and friendly.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon said that the Iraqi Government stood by its statements. "We have stopped all cooperation with UNSCOM and we have kept the ongoing monitoring system up and running," Ambassador Hamdoon told the press.
Ambassador Hamdoon added that the Iraqi authorities were waiting to see any "genuine" move by the Council to address Iraq's concern. He pointed out that his Government continued to welcome any efforts by the Secretary- General to try to find a way Iraqi concerns could be met. He said that his government would find it very difficult to keep any meaningful cooperation with UNSCOM unless it was restructured.
The members of the Security Council have joined the regional calls for an immediate cease-fire and the start of negotiations to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Following discussions of several issues on Monday, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Danilo Turk of Slovenia said that the members of the Council reiterated their concern about the developments in the country where fighting raged between government and rebel forces.
They expressed their support for the regional diplomatic initiatives aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict, including the initiative of President Nelson Mandela of South Africa as the current Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Ambassador Turk added.
Furthermore, he said, the members of the Security Council reiterated the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The members of the Security Council also expressed concern about the plight of the civilian population. They called for the protection of civilians and the security of humanitarian personnel. They appealed for the complete access by humanitarian organizations to the people in need in Congo- Kinshasa, the Council President said.
Finally, Ambassador Turk concluded, the members of the Security Council urged respect for human rights and humanitarian law, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also expressed his full support for the efforts of the Southern African Development Community to resolve the crisis in the country. He urged all the parties concerned to cooperate fully with regional efforts for the sake of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to permit the attainment of true peace and sustainable development.
The Sudan has requested the Security Council to urgently convene a meeting to discuss last Friday's military strike by the United States of America.
In a letter dated 21 August 1998 from the Representative of the Sudan to the President of the Security Council, the Sudan says that the rocket attack on the Shafa factory was an "iniquitous act of aggression" and a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Sudan denies the allegations that the factory was owned by Osama bin Laden and that it produced chemical weapons and poisonous gases used for terrorist purposes. It describes the allegations as "totally devoid of truth," adding that the United States Government has no evidence to support such allegations.
The country says it is fully prepared to provide information to the Council or any other body mandated for that purpose. It adds that it is also ready to receive a mission from the Council to visit the site, consult the documentation and establish all the various aspects of the facts.
The Sudan says that it rejects terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and has persistently asked the United States Government to cooperate with it by submitting any evidence or information to resolve this issue.
The Sudan characterized the United States justification of its military strike under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter as "naive, illogical and baseless" since it has not attacked or threatened the United States.
The President of the General Assembly has said that no-preconditions exist at the current stage that could lead to a breakthrough in the deadlock on the reform of the Security Council.
In his statement to the General Assembly which met on Monday to adopt the report of the group dealing with Security Council reform, Ambassador Hennadiy Udovenko of Ukraine said that stumbling blocks have prevented the group from agreeing on "anything."
"This is probably one of the most difficult issues the United Nations has tackled throughout its history," Ambassador Udovenko said. He added that the issue of the reform of the Security Council was "certainly one of the thorniest items" on the agenda of the General Assembly at the end of this century.
Ambassador Udovenko highlighted some of the stumbling blocks which include opposition to the creation of new permanent seats, disagreement on the issue of the total size of an enlarged Council, different approaches to the issue of rotational arrangements for new permanent seats, and considerable differences on the problem of veto rights with respect to both current and prospective permanent members.
"It is indeed a fact that all those problems continue to exist," the President of the General Assembly said. Quoting Ralph Bunche who served the United Nations in its early days, Ambassador Udovenko said that the "United Nations exists not merely to preserve the peace, but also to make change -- even radical change -- possible without violent upheaval.
Mr. Udovenko warned that failure to agree on reforming the Security Council could leave a perception for the outside world that this reform exercise merely reflected conflicting interests between different groups in pursuit of their own goals. "International public opinion could be left with an impression that one group is striving to transform its apparent international prestige into sound result within the United Nations system," he said.
The General Assembly agreed to continue the discussions on Security Council reform during its fifty-third session.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday that he was "extremely" pleased by the decision of the United Kingdom and the United States to try two Libyan bombing suspects in the Netherlands.
A United Nations spokesman said that the Secretary-General had been informed by the two countries of their offer to Libya to accept the trial of the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. The two Libyans are suspected of planting a bomb in a civilian airliner which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland ten years ago. The court would follow normal Scottish law and procedures except for the replacement of the jury by a panel of three Scottish High Court judges.
Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that on Monday morning the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, Robin Cook discussed the proposal by telephone with the Secretary-General who is in Ghana.
Mr. Eckhard said that the proposal was similar to the one suggested by the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States in a letter to the Security Council of 6 March 1998. "The Secretary-General welcomes this development," Mr. Eckhard added.
The Secretary-General has been requested by the two Governments to convey the proposal to the Libyan Government, a press statement said on Monday. He was also asked to provide to the Libyan Government any assistance it might require with regard to the physical arrangements for the transfer of the two accused directly to the Netherlands.
Mr. Kofi Annan also expressed gratitude to the Government of the Netherlands for its willingness to assist in the matter, the statement concluded.
The United Nations Secretary-General has received with "profound" sorrow, the news of the death of a military adviser to the United Nations Special Mission in Afghanistan (UNSMA), a statement issued by his spokesman said on Monday.
Lt. Colonel Calo of Italy died at a hospital run by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul on Saturday morning due to complications from gunshot wounds. He had been shot by a gunman on Friday morning when a United Nations vehicle driven by him was approaching the United Nations Office in Kabul. Another UNSMA official, Political Affairs Officer Eric Lavertu of France was also wounded in the attack.
Mr. Calo was the ninth fatality among military officers serving with United Nations peacekeeping and peacemaking operations since the beginning of this year, Spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "Lt. Colonel Calo's death is yet another reminder of the high price which United Nations personnel have had to pay in the cause of peace," the spokesman added.
The Secretary-General offered his condolences to the Government of Italy over the untimely loss of an outstanding officer dedicated to the cause of peace in Afghanistan, the statement said. He expressed his deepest sympathy to the relatives of Lt. Colonel Calo.
Lt. Colonel Calo who had spent only one month in service with UNSMA was held in high regard for his professional conduct and objective reporting in the mission area. The spokesman's statement said that Lt. Colonel Calo's "selfless devotion and personal sacrifice will be remembered not only by the United Nations but also by the people of Afghanistan."
The United Nations has relocated all its international staff members in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Secretary-General confirmed on Monday.
However, Spokesman Fred Eckhard said, humanitarian activities continued in the country where several hundred national staff are still assisting populations in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khandahar and Herat.
Mr. Eckhard said that the ongoing operations include the demining programme, assistance to returning refugees, a bakery project, and health care among other projects.
Threats to the safety and security of international staff in Afghanistan have caused concern at the United Nations in recent days. Last week two staff members serving with the United Nations Special Mission in Afghanistan were attacked in their car in Kabul. One staff member died on Saturday.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has submitted recommendations on a possible role of the United Nations in the planned legislative elections in the Central African Republic.
The recommendations are contained in his report on the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic (MINURCA). The proposed operational plan for MINURCA includes the logistical support of electoral material and equipment, the observation of legislative elections and security of electoral materials and observers.
The Secretary-General urges all the parties in the Central African Republic to fully assume their responsibilities in the elections and to participate in them in a manner that would strengthen the democratic process and contribute to genuine national reconciliation.
In his report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General also provides an update on electoral developments in the country since his report of 19 June 1998. He points out that President Ange-Felix Patasse has taken a number of decisions in preparations for the elections including the establishment of the Electoral Commission known as the Commission ‚lectorale mixte et ind‚pendent (CEMI).
The Security Council is scheduled to hold discussions of the report on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General's Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Mr. Oluyemi Adeniji is expected to be present for those discussions.
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