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United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-04-14

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Wednesday, 14 April, 1999

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.

Latest Developments


  • UN tribunal prosecutor says help from States key to getting evidence on war crimes in Kosovo.
  • UN agricultural organization warns Kosovo crisis has far- reaching implications for food security in region.
  • UN envoy welcomes East Timorese leader's call for peace and reconciliation.
  • UNSCOM, IAEA reject allegations of spying by field office in Bahrain -- UN spokesman.

Calling the process of gathering evidence against suspected war criminals a "very exacting exercise", the prosecutor of the UN tribunal for Yugoslavia on Wednesday requested that countries provide relevant information about the atrocities being committed in the Balkans to assist the investigation.

Addressing a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, Prosecutor Louise Arbour of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said her team of investigators would trace the chain of command to determine ultimate responsibility for the situation in Kosovo but needed the cooperation of countries.

The Tribunal did not have the same investigative powers -- such as installing wiretaps -- that are allowed in most countries, Ms. Arbour said. Therefore, it was important for her investigators to gain access to the kind of intelligence they would normally not be able to get. Those leads could then be used to gather evidence that might be used in a trial, she said.

"There is nothing that insulates anybody from our scrutiny," Ms. Arbour said, "except our own capacity to produce evidence that will satisfy a judge that will confirm an indictment."

The Prosecutor went on to explain that in determining accountability for any alleged crimes, it was necessary to match a person's legal or constitutional responsibility over army or other armed forces with verifiable evidence that the commander knew actual crimes were being perpetrated by subordinates and had failed to prevent or punish them after being made aware of it. The Prosecutor warned, however, that it was premature to draw conclusions about the legal existence of genocide in Kosovo.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Wednesday that the Kosovo crisis was expected to have a profound, long-term impact on food security in the region.

In a Special Alert issued in Rome, FAO said fighting in the province had devastated the agricultural and food-processing industries, resulting in a severe reduction in food supplies in Kosovo.

Thousands of farms had been destroyed, abandoned or untended, farming equipment looted or destroyed and there were huge livestock losses, exacerbating the problems of food supplies for displaced persons and others still in the province. The UN food agency said that many had already been dependent on relief aid which had stopped since the violence in the province had intensified in recent weeks.

If security conditions improved enough to allow Kosovars to return to their homes, massive international relief would be needed until domestic agricultural production and commercial trade flows were re-established. FAO cautioned that given the vast scale of devastation to houses, farms, and infrastructure, that assistance would probably be required for more than one season. Contingency planning was urgently needed.

Even in normal years, Kosovo was a food deficit area with productivity falling due to conflict, difficult terrain, poor soils, and a significant decline in the use of essential farm inputs, said FAO.

The United Nations special envoy for East Timor on Wednesday welcomed a call for peace made by an East Timorese resistance leader and urged all East Timorese leaders and organizations to renounce the use of violence as a means of resolving political differences.

Reacting to an appeal for dialogue made by President of East Timorese Resistance Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao, the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for East Timor, Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, stressed in a press statement released in New York that the starting point for reconciliation and peace in East Timor should be a commitment by all to end the escalating violence and tension.

Pointing to the need for a political environment that would ensure accommodation of all political tendencies, Ambassador Marker called on Mr. Gusmao and all other leaders to convey the message of non-violence and mutual respect to their followers and the people of East Timor at large.

Ambassador Marker also reiterated his call on the Indonesian Government to take effective steps to end the spate of violence and to allow an independent investigation into the recent killings of civilians and to bring those responsible to justice without delay.

Two United Nations bodies charged with the elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have rejected allegations made in a recent television report that their field office in Bahrain had been infiltrated by spies, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.

Issuing clarifications in response to a BBC programme entitled "Panorama", Spokesman Fred Eckhard said the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had both assured the Secretary-General that UNSCOM Field Office facilities in Bahrain had been used "for no other purpose" than to promote the logistic and administrative support to operations undertaken by them in accordance with their respective mandates.

Mr. Eckhard also said that the Secretary-General wished to express once again his sincere thanks and appreciation for the "invaluable support" of the Government of Bahrain for UNSCOM and IAEA.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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