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United Nations Daily Highlights, 98-08-26

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 26 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.


  • Security Council prepares to adopt draft on Lockerbie affair; Libya seeks more time to study proposals.
  • UN human rights body urges Security Council to lift embargo against Iraq.
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urges courage in implementing Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • United Nations refugee agency suspends humanitarian programmes in Congo- Kinshasa as result of fighting.
  • Secretary-General appeals to Haitian authorities to swiftly ratify new Prime Minister.

The Security Council on Wednesday continued its closed-door deliberations on a draft resolution put forward by the United States and the United Kingdom aimed at resolving the Lockerbie affair.

By the terms of the draft resolution, the two Libyan nationals suspected of involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 would be tried before Scottish judges at The Hague.

Council President Danilo Turk, the Ambassador of Slovenia, told reporters that he hoped the draft could be put to a vote on Thursday.

The Charge d'Affaires of the United Kingdom, Stephen Gomersall, echoed this view. "We are making progress towards the speedy adoption of this [draft] resolution," he said.

For its part, Libya requested that a decision be postponed to allow the country's authorities more time to study the proposals now on the table and request the assistance of international experts on the matter. In a letter sent Tuesday to the President of the Security Council, Libyan representative Ramadan A. Barg says his country is anxious to settle the dispute and that it "seriously wishes to arrive at a solution and to resolve any complication that might arise."

Charge d'Affaires Stephen Gomersall of the United Kingdom said that Tripoli "obviously has the right to study the text, but the Libyan Government has had access to legal experts on the Scottish system for a long time." He stressed that there was no time limit on offer, while calling on Libya to "respond quickly and without equivocation."

The Security Council imposed sanctions on Libya following the destruction of Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1988. All 270 people aboard the flight died, along with 11 people on the ground.

A United Nations human rights body on Wednesday urged the United Nations Security Council to lift the economic embargo imposed on Iraq.

In a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities blamed the sanctions for "unacceptable" declines in levels of health, nutrition, health care, employment, and agriculture, and a rise in infant mortality.

According to the text, an embargo that condemned innocent people to hunger, disease, ignorance and even death without attaining its stated objectives constitutes a flagrant violation of economic, social, and cultural rights and of international law.

Created by the Commission on Human Rights in 1947, the Subcommission is made up of 26 independent experts representing countries from the five regional groups. According to their mandate, the experts undertake studies and make recommendations to the Commission on Human Rights concerning the prevention of discrimination, the protection of the rights of minorities, and, more generally, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday called for 'courage, commitment and a sense of purpose' in the effort to apply the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

High Commissioner Mary Robinson said she did not use the word 'celebrate' when referring to this year's commemoration of the Declaration's fiftieth anniversary because as she looked around the world she saw little reason to celebrate. What she hoped for, she said, was that the anniversary would be used as a spur to reinvigorate efforts to promote human rights.

Ms. Robinson made her remarks at a meeting of the Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities held in Geneva. A series of Subcommission experts representing regional groups also spoke on the Declaration's fiftieth anniversary.

According to expert Fan Guoxiang, true respect for the Universal Declaration required greater emphasis on economic and development issues, greater focus on the duties and responsibilities attached to human rights, and greater respect for cultural diversity in the world.

Asbjorn Eide said the Universal Declaration made it clear that peace could only be built on respect for human rights. He stressed that a right was only a right if it could be effectively claimed. This view was endorsed by Vladimir Kartashkin, who said that if the Subcommission were to examine practical measures for ensuring implementation of the human rights instruments, that would be the best way of celebrating the Declaration's fiftieth anniversary.

Subcommission expert Ahmed Khalil noted that at the time of the Declaration's adoption, only three African States had been members of the United Nations. As the number of African members of the United Nations increased, their contribution to the elaboration of new declarations and covenants emanating from the Universal Declaration had increased as well, he said.

A. Salinas Rivera remarked that the Universal Declaration was an indication that all nations and peoples in the world aspired to certain principles. He called for a renewed effort to overcome serious situations which affected people who daily saw their rights and freedoms violated or not recognized.

The United Nations refugee agency has suspended its assistance programme throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a result of the fighting between the government and rebel forces.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday growing tension and reports of fighting prompted the United Nations Security Coordinator to move staff in all provinces outside Kinshasa to phase five. Under that phase, the staff were relocated from Aru, Mbandaka and Lubumbashi.

UNHCR also said that it was preparing contingency plans for a refugee influx into neighbouring Republic of Congo. The United Nations agency said that it was strengthening its staff in Brazzaville, the country's capital.

Meanwhile, refugees from the conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to arrive in Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Burundi and Tanzania. UNHCR said that the most consistent flow had been registered in Kigoma, Tanzania where more than 900 refugees had arrived by boat since Monday.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to Haitian authorities and political leaders for a swift ratification of a new prime minister.

According to United Nations Spokesman Fred Eckhard, the appeal is contained in the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti.

In the report, the Secretary-General notes that Haiti is still without a government. The Secretary-General highlights the paramount importance of taking concrete steps to prepare for the next local and legislative elections in the country.

He goes on to say that the United Nations stands ready to provide a few international experts to assist the Provisional Electoral Council, if requested.

The Secretary-General cites a widely accepted notion that there will be a continuing need for international training of the Haitian National Police. He says that consultations will need to be held with the Haitian authorities in the coming months regarding the role of the international community on this matter.

The United Nations mission in Haiti expires on 30 November this year.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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