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United Nations Daily Highlights 96-10-07

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Monday, October 7, 1996

This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.


  • Palestinian refugee problem and situation in Afghanistan highlighted as General Assembly enters final week of general debate.
  • UN Secretary-General reiterates concern at status of women and girls in Afghanistan.
  • 'Habitat Agenda' from Habitat II conference offers vision of sustainable human settlements, says UN Secretary-General in World Habitat Day.
  • Lack of progress in Angolan peace process over the past three months is source of serious concern, UN Secretary-General says in report to Security Council.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees warns that despite international commitments to uphold right of asylum, standards of refugee protection are being eroded in many countries.
  • UN Conference on Trade and Development publishes comprehensive compendium of international investment instruments.
  • An agreed definition of terrorism which distinguishes it from actions aimed at defence of legitimate rights is needed, Legal Committee is told.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, Khaled Madadha has told the General Assembly that one of the biggest and most complex problems in the Middle East was the Palestinian refugee problem, whose settlement had been deferred to the final status negotiations.

Speaking to the Assembly as it entered the final week of general debate, Mr. Madadha said it was regrettable that the international community had not given that important political and humanitarian problem its due attention, appreciation and assistance. He called on the international community to increase its contribution to assist in the humanitarian problem that affected the lives of over three and a half million Palestinian refugees, including some one million living in Jordan.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Attorney-General of the Bahamas, Janet G. Bostwick has called on the nations of the world to hear the plea of the 21 million Taiwanese, and consider what was just and right for them, as they sought to avail themselves of the benefits of membership in the United Nations.

She said her country had repeatedly recorded her support in the General Assembly for the efforts of the 21 million inhabitants of Taiwan, as they entreat the UN to examine the merits of establishing a committee to analyse in depth the implication, both now and for the future, of continuing to preclude them from formal representation in the General Assembly by way of membership in the United Nations.

The Minister for External Affairs of Sudan, Osman Mohamed Taha told the Assembly that despite the evident facts, the persistent attempts to impose sanctions on the Sudan defied logic and justice, and needed to be reconsidered in order to alleviate the injustice inflicted on that country.

He said the negative impact of the recurrent series of sanctions could cause gross human suffering on the innocent people for no good cause. Mr. Taha reiterated his country's readiness to cooperate with the parties concerned and stated that available evidence indicated that the suspects, in the attempted murder of the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, were not present on the Sudanese territories.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai told the Assembly that the current state of terror and chaos, touching the life of every moving soul in Kabul, was the direct consequence of foreign interference.

He told the Assembly that, based on various accounts, it was the strong conviction of the Islamic State of Afghanistan that the foreign sponsors of the Taliban had provided them with some type of internationally banned gas or chemical weapons, used in the Taliban onslaught for the capture of Kabul, where they encountered strong resistance.

Mr. Ghafoorzai said the Taliban are lacking any vision or ability for having an economic and social rehabilitation objective in Afghanistan. "They lack any coherent and systemic thinking and projection to the vast needs of today's Afghanistan", he said, adding that any relation established with the Taliban may be interpreted by the Taliban as if they may have been tolerated by the international community.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has reiterated his concern at the status of women and girls in Afghanistan. The Secretary- General said he had consulted with the heads of Agencies, Programmes, Funds and Offices throughout the UN system in Afghanistan. "We have decided to restate our single, system-wide policy on the question of gender equality. Our goal is to dispel any misunderstanding or obstacles which might arise as we carry on our activities in our respective sectors," he said.

Citing the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as among those who have expressed alarm at reports that women were being denied access to education and employment, the Secretary-General said the sorts of restrictions reported would also directly contravene the spirit and letter of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action to which Afghanistan subscribed without reservation. "They could also have serious repercussions on the ability of the United Nations to deliver programmes of relief and reconstruction to that country, " Dr. Boutros-Ghali said.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said today in a statement on the occasion of World Habitat Day that the Habitat Agenda offered a positive vision of sustainable human settlements -- where all had adequate shelter, a healthy and safe environment, basic services and productive and freely chosen employment. He added that World Habitat Day, which is observed the first Monday of October every year, was an occasion to reflect on the state of the environment in which we lived.

"It is an observance that draws attention to the plight of the nearly 1 billion people around the world who either are homeless or have inadequate shelter, without access to electricity, clean water or sanitation -- a majority of whom live in the rapidly expanding cities of the developing world," the statement indicated.

Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali pointed out that, at the second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) held in Istanbul, a road map was drawn to the future. He highlighted the new process launched for worldwide partnerships between governments, local authorities, non- governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector and other elements of civil society.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali says while the cease-fire was holding in Angola and the parties continued to profess their commitment to the Lusaka protocol, the lack of significant progress in the peace process over the past three months was a source of serious concern.

In a progress report to the Security Council on the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III), the Secretary-General said nearly two years after the signing of the Protocol, the continuing delays and unfulfilled promises, particularly on the part of UNITA, in implementing the successive timetables for the completion of key military and political issues are no longer acceptable.

He recommended that the Security Council consider only a short extension of the mandate of UNAVEM III, until 11 December, so that it could keep the situation in Angola under close review and respond appropriately to continuing delays, especially by UNITA, in compliance with the Lusaka Protocol.

"If, on the other hand, certain pressing commitments are honoured in the next few days, in particular the arrival of all UNITA generals in Luanda and acceleration of the selection of UNITA soldiers and their incorporation into the national army, the Security Council may wish to consider a longer extension of the mandate", he noted.

He said the failure by Mr. Savimbi to attend the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in Luanda on 2 October was unfortunate. "His participation in the summit would have provided a good opportunity for a meeting on Angolan soil with President dos Santos in order to resolve key outstanding issues", the Secretary-General said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sadako Ogata on Monday warned that despite international commitments to uphold the right of asylum, standards of refugee protection are being eroded in many countries.

In a speech to the annual meeting of UNHCR's 51-member Executive Committee, Ms. Ogata re-affirmed the fundamental right to seek asylum from persecution. She urged decision-makers to combat prejudice against asylum-seekers and to share the burdens of major asylum countries, while also fighting the misuse of asylum.

Ms. Ogata called on states to redouble their efforts to avert and resolve conflict and asked them to provide more effective protection to people displaced within their own borders and to other civilian victims of war and human rights abuse.

The High Commissioner told the Geneva meeting that observance of international standards for the protection of refugees continued to slip in 1996. "Access to territory has been either denied outright, as a result of push-offs of boat arrivals and rejections at borders, or complicated by new legislative restrictions," she said.

According to Ms. Ogata, deadly attacks on refugee camps, sexual abuse of refugee women and children and forcible conscription of refugee men and children have seriously undermined safety during asylum.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published the most comprehensive compendium of international investment instruments to date.

The three volume publication entitled: International Investment Instruments, is part of UNCTAD's efforts to provide the background for a meaningful dialogue among countries on foreign direct investment policies.

The Compendium contains an introductory analysis of the status and development of international regulatory arrangements for foreign direct investment and reproduces, for the first time in one publication, the texts of over 80 of the most important multilateral and regional instruments dealing with foreign direct investment.

Also included are a selection of model bilateral investment treaties, a complete list of those treaties concluded up to July 1995 and key instruments prepared by professional and business organisations.

The need to arrive at an agreed definition of terrorism which distinguished it from actions aimed at the defence of legitimate rights was among the matters stressed at the Legal Committee (Sixth) continued its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism.

Calling recent acts of terrorism a return to the law of the jungle, the representative of Egypt was among those calling for such clear standards. Also needed were measures to prosecute or extradite terrorists and the convening of an international conference to combat terrorism, he said.

A number of speakers cited the need to achieve a balance between the sovereignty of States and the rights of the individual. Others held the view that terrorists should not be permitted to manipulate humanitarian laws, such as that of asylum, for their own purposes.

The representative of Israel said state neutrality was not an option in the war against terrorism. Countries that were afraid to, fight terrorism did not stand alone on the battlefield, but their hand must be strengthened, he said.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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