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United Nations Daily Highlights 96-10-17

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, October 17, 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.


  • UN Secretary-General says International Day for Eradication of Poverty poses challenge to international community.
  • United Nations offers countries in transition development services, UN Secretary-General tells Symposium in Germany.
  • UN Secretary-General expresses condolences to families of Guatemala City tragedy.
  • Commitments made at World Summit for Social Development constitute new international contract to achieve social development, General Assembly is told.
  • United States official says although ratification of Chemical Weapons Convention has been withdrawn from consideration in United States Senate, ratification process will soon resume.
  • Sanctions and external debt must be considered in determining capacity of member States to pay their dues, Administrative and Budgetary Committee hears.
  • Developing countries should have stable and non-discriminatory access to technology, Economic and Financial Committee is told.
  • Action needed to assist those who suffered long-term effects of atomic radiation, Special Political and Decolonisation Committee hears.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has said that the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty poses a challenge to the international community as a whole to do more to stem the rising tide of world poverty.

In a message to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) seminar with the theme, "Global Hunger and Poverty: Dimensions and Solutions", Dr. Boutros-Ghali said people were faced with a daily struggle to overcome the burdens of famine, disease, civil strife and war in too many parts of the developing world.

"The eradication of hunger and poverty requires constructive and concerted international action. The world's poorest countries cannot address these problems in isolation", he said, adding that the UN had made the assault on poverty a priority. He said the urgent need for new policies and new initiatives had dominated all UN world conferences on development issues held over the last five years.

The Secretary-General said poverty alleviation could help reduce dependence and stimulate new demand for products and services in even the poorest countries. He said the world should ensure that commitments made in international fora are translated into practical advances on the ground, adding that "we must lift the millstone of debt from around the neck of the poorest countries".

Meanwhile, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), James Gustave Speth said the UNDP had targeted poverty eradication as its top priority, and was engaged in a coordinated effort by the UN system to help governments attack its root causes and harsh consequences.

He said the Agency now spends nearly 90 per cent of its core resources in countries with 90 per cent of the world's poorest people. "We have committed the full force of all our energies to the gravest human challenge of our time, an effort which will also galvanise and energise the various efforts of the UN around a great and just cause," he said.

The global observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is aimed at promoting public awareness of the conditions and causes of poverty and the need to eradicate such destitution in all countries.

Now that profound changes in political systems had been made, economic aspects of transition were probably the most visible, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has told the Malente Symposium on the "Integration of Economies in Transition into the world Economy", held in Lubeck, Germany.

"We should not forget that economic transition was not inspired by economic considerations alone. It was a complex movement involving social, political, security, humanitarian, cultural as well as economic aspects," he said.

He said United Nations, through its country offices, offers to countries in transition services related to development, economic liberalisation, political and information support and assistance with integration into the international system.

"The world is embarking on a new transition, even as we live through the transition that characterised the end of the Cold War. This new transition is one from a North-South system where a growing gap separates States and peoples, to an era of international cooperation for development and a new multilateral diplomacy of development," he said.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has expressed condolences to the families of those who died on Wednesday at the Matias Flores National Stadium in Guatemala City, the Spokesman to the Secretary- General, Ahmad Fawzi said today. As a partner in Guatemala's efforts towards peace and reconciliation, the United Nations stands ready to provide the Guatemalan authorities whatever support may be required at this time of need, the Spokesman said.
Commitments made at last year's World Summit for Social Development constituted a new international contract to achieve social development, the representative of Chile, Juan Somavia said on Wednesday as the General Assembly began its review of follow-up to the 1995 Copenhagen Summit.

Ambassador Somavia said those commitments had paved the way for a new era of cooperation based on the security of the individual, adding that the United Nations had taken such steps as revitalising the Commission for Social Development, establishing inter-agency task forces to coordinate follow-up and enhancing relations between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union and Associated States, the representative of Ireland, John Campbell said the Summit participants had agreed that development was not solely a matter of economic growth. He said development also required democratic governance, empowerment of individuals, social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth and income.

However, to eradicate poverty, financial resources must be mobilised, bearing in mind the commitment by donor countries to contribute 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to official development assistance (ODA), he said.

The representative of Costa Rica, Emilia Castro de Barish, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that while the resources and the organisational ability to eradicate poverty existed, the political will to pursue that goal through a partnership was lacking.

She appealed to all member States to honour their commitments, particularly with respect to the provision of adequate resources, to ensure full implementation of the goals of the Social Summit.

While calling upon the United Nations to coordinate and support follow-up efforts, many speakers acknowledged that the primary responsibility for setting social development goals rested with national Governments.

Although ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention had been withdrawn from consideration in the United States Senate, the ratification process would resume promptly in the next months, without political distraction, the representative of that country said, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate.

The Director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, said the United States was actively engaged in destroying its chemical-weapon stockpiles. He added that efforts by States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention to elaborate a compliance protocol would succeed if they remained resolutely focused on the task at hand: preventing deadly diseases from being used as instruments of terror and war.

The representative of Algeria warned that the forthcoming entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention without ratification by the United States and the Russian Federation weakened it considerably. Maximum participation was needed to meet the conditions for international security, he said.

Economic sanctions and coercive measures which affected some member States' capacity to pay their dues to the United Nations should be considered by the Committee on Contributions in determining the scale of assessments, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told as it continued debating the scale of contributions to the Organisation. The Committee also began discussing the Secretary-General's proposals on the savings from the 1996-1997 regular budget and issues related to the pattern of conferences.

Speaking on the scale of assessments, the representative of Libya said sanctions had resulted in losses to his country of $18 billion from 1992 to 1995, in addition to their human and psychological impacts. Furthermore, his Government also faced problems of acquiring foreign currency to pay its dues to the United Nations and other organisations as a result of the economic sanctions imposed on Libya.

Brazil's representative emphasised that the external debt burden adjustment should be maintained as an integral part of the scale methodology, adding that the negative impact of external debt on member States' capacity to pay could not be denied.

Speaking on the Secretary-General's proposals on the savings from the 1996 - 1997 programme budget, the representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and Associated States, said he agreed with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that the Organisation's programmes should be reviewed in order to avoid a general deterioration in those programmes and any adverse effect on the priorities of the United Nations. That review, he said, should be part of the forthcoming discussions on the draft 1998-2000 medium-term plan.

Developing countries should have stable and non-discriminatory access to technology, including new and sensitive technologies for peaceful uses, and environmentally sound technologies, the representative of India told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it continued its debate on the world economic situation.

He said proposals for setting up technology transfer rights banks and the building up of information networks to provide environmentally sound technologies should be pursued.

A representative of the World Bank told the Committee that during 1996 funds disbursed by the Bank amounted to $19 billion, an increase of nearly 5.5 per cent from last year. During the same period, the Bank and its soft- loan affiliate, the International Development Association (IDA), had together committed more than $21 billion allocated for 256 projects. The largest allocation went to electric power, transportation and agriculture.

An official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reporting on the recent annual meeting of the Fund and the World Bank, said an initiative had been adopted to ensure that heavily indebted poor countries could attain a sustainable debt position over the medium term.

He said the initiative encompassed total external debt, including, for the first time and in a comprehensive manner, multilateral debt. The Fund's contribution to the initiative would be within the framework of its Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility.

Action was needed to help those who had suffered the long-term effects of atomic radiation. The representative of the Marshall Islands told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation) that severe birth defects, leukemia and radiogenic diseases were among the legacy of the nuclear test explosions in his region during the period of Trusteeship.

The Committee's reports had served as a basis for the drawing of national and international standards for protection against the harmful effects of radiation, according to the representative of Ireland.

Egypt said there were nuclear installations in the Middle east that were not subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection. That, he said, affected the lives of millions in the region.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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