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United Nations Daily Highlights 96-10-28
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 28, 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 and heads of UN specialised agencies have emphasised that the ultimate aim of UN reform should not be cost-cutting for its own sake. Following a two-day Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) meeting held on 25 and 26 October, the Secretary- General and executive heads of UN agencies said the primary objectives of UN reform were enhancing cost-effectiveness and, ultimately, strengthening the capacity of the system to address effectively the new challenges of the post-Cold War era.
During the two-day meeting, the Secretary-General briefed the agency heads on political developments, with particular emphasis on the situation in the Great Lakes region, the Secretary-General's Spokesman Sylvana Foa announced on Monday.
The meeting also reviewed agency activities complementing UN peacebuilding and development efforts in Africa and elsewhere. "The Committee reviewed the direction of ongoing reform processes in the various organisations, and their implications for the strengthening of the UN system. Executive heads reaffirmed their individual and collective commitment to pursue and deepen the reform effort," the Spokesman said.
The meeting noted that far-reaching management reforms had been, or were being, introduced in most of the organisations of the UN system. "At the inter-agency level, on-going measures to coordinate specific programmes and activities were being accompanied by a renewed effort at identifying and focussing on common priority objectives and priority themes, and at concerting overall policies and strategies," she said.
The meeting also discussed the aspects of development cooperation, including the review of progress in the implementation of the UN System- Wide Special initiative on Africa, and the follow-up to recent global conferences.
The General Assembly on Friday decided to endorse the continued international assistance for reconstruction and development activities in Nicaragua.
The Assembly requested the UN Secretary-General, in cooperation with the relevant UN bodies and the Nicaraguan authorities, to continue to provide, within existing resources, assistance to reconstruction, stabilisation and development activities in Nicaragua.
It also requested the Secretary-General to support, in particular, efforts of the Nicaraguan authorities to alleviate poverty, support economic and social development and solve property problems.
The representative of Nicaragua said that international assistance had helped his country recover from damage caused by a decade of armed conflict. He said the consolidation of peace and democracy in Nicaragua had fostered peace and the rule of law in Central America. Nonetheless, Nicaragua continued to need the support of the UN and international community as it worked to solve serious social problems, he noted.
In another development, the Assembly adopted a resolution expressing the view that the recent completion of the cooperation agreement between the UN and the Inter-Parliamentary Union was an important step towards strengthening collaboration between the two bodies.
The cooperation agreement signed in July, formalised the cooperative relationship between the UN and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, facilitating mutually complementary activities and the initiation of joint projects.
Under the agreement, the UN recognised the role of the Inter- Parliamentary- Union in promoting peace and international cooperation and, for its part, the Union recognised the distinct responsibilities of the UN and pledged its support for the Organisation's goals.
The humanitarian situation throughout Iraq was dismal and, with the onset of winter, would become critical for tens of thousands of Iraqis who already were living well below the poverty level, the heads of three United Nations humanitarian agencies said on Monday in a joint appeal for urgent contributions to the UN Humanitarian Programme for Iraq.
Appealing for urgent assistance, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yasushi Akashi, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy and the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Catherine Bertini told UN correspondents in New York that they were gravely concerned over sharply deteriorating conditions in Iraq.
They said the cumulative effects of war, economic sanctions, hyper- inflation, unemployment and this year's 30% drop in crop production were starting to exact a terrible humanitarian toll, especially among women and children, more than half of whom were receiving less than 50% of their caloric needs. "Malnutrition, particularly among children under five, has become rampant. In the north, the effects of the recent conflict have further worsened the situation," the senior UN officials warned.
The officials said the donor countries had contributed only $1.6 million to the $39.9 million appeal that the UN issued on 27 September to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs in Iraq through the end of the year.
The Humanitarian programme covered a three month period - October to December 1996 - and was a transitional measure that would be re- examined or superseded with the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995).
In a joint statement, the three Agencies said that under the interim appeal, WFP was to receive $19 million to cover the food aid needs of 2.15 million highly vulnerable people, including 900,000 war widows, 180,000 malnourished children under five and 200,000 pregnant or nursing mothers. UNICEF was to receive $10.5 million for essential medicines and nutritional supplements for children suffering from malnutrition and disease.
So far, the only donations under the current appeal had been by the Government of the Netherlands, which had contributed $586,796 to WFP and $584,795 to UNICEF. Other donations had included $291, 829 by the Government of France to UNHCR and $146,299 from the Government of the Netherlands to Department of Humanitarian Affairs.
The international community should alleviate the debt burden, increase capital flows and remove discriminatory trade practices in order to help developing countries achieve food security, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told as it began consideration of industrial development cooperation and food and sustainable agricultural development.
The representative of Costa Rica, Ana Teresa Dengo, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that increasing food aid was important and should be made compatible with the needs and priorities of recipient countries. She said the use of food aid to exert political pressure should be resolutely opposed.
Noting that the existence of human rights, stable democratic political conditions and good governance were necessary to create an environment that attracted investment and improved food security, the representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and Associated States, stressed the importance of establishing institutions and regulatory frameworks, as well as active population and sound environmental policies.
The Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Mauricio de Maria y Campos, told the Committee that within a short span of three years, his Organisation had refined the main focus of its work, restructured its organisation, reduced its budget by more than 25 per cent and its staff by almost 40 per cent. He said UNIDO had streamlined its service delivery processes and its administrative procedures.
Governments must demonstrate their commitment to gender equality by allocating resources to implement the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing last year, the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) was told.
Addressing the Committee on the advancement of women and the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, speakers said a gender perspective must be taken into account when the budgets of domestic programmes and policies were being decided. Several speakers stressed that political will alone would not ensure successful implementation, adding that workable national strategies and concrete international cooperation were also needed.
The representative of Cuba said accessing resources was indispensable in attaining the goals of equality, development and peace reaffirmed in Beijing. China said two-thirds of the world's poor were women and many developing countries lacked sufficient resources to implement gender specific programmes, adding that industrialised nations should achieve the Official Development Assistance (ODA) target of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The Secretary-General's human resources management strategy had shown an excessive tendency towards a corporatist management far removed from the UN Charter, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told.
Addressing the Committee on human resources management, the representative of Costa Rica, Nazareth Incera, speaking on behalf of Group of 77 and China said the Secretariat should keep in mind that the United Nations was not a company. "The UN does not sell a product whose production can be increased or decreased at will according to profits", Ms. Incera said.
"It is of extreme importance that the new direction towards the so- called corporate mentality does not destroy the fabric of the international civil service," she noted, adding that the performance appraisal system (PAS) was a private enterprise conception that could work perfectly in an institution which was benefit-oriented.
The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM) said a certain sense of malaise and pessimism overhang the Organisation, and could only be countered by giving people hope through improved prospects for advancement. She said the need to provide more systematic training and development opportunities for all UN staff should be emphasised.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the Secretariat should explain the need to raise the Professional vacancy rate to 11.8 per cent, from the 6.4 per cent approved by the General Assembly, adding that the higher rate might hamper the implementation of mandated programmes.
The agreement for the operation of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada was signed on Friday.
The agreement formalises the legal arrangements that allow the Secretariat to carry out its day-to-day operations in the most effective manner possible. The Parties to the Convention, meeting in Jakarta last November, selected Montreal to host the Convention Secretariat.
Recognising the immense value of the earth's biological resources, Government's, under UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) auspices, negotiated the Convention on Biological Diversity in time for its signing at the 1992 Earth Summit.
The Convention entered into force on 29 December 1993. The Convention's objectives are "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources".
It is the first global, comprehensive agreement to address all aspects of biological diversity: genetic resources, species and ecosystems. The Montreal Secretariat, with a staff of 20 permanent professional positions, is headed by an Executive Secretary, Calestous Juma of Kenya.
The World Food Programme says it has begun prepositioning food supplies inside Rwanda along the border with Zaire amid reports that over 4,500 people fleeing armed clashes have crossed into the country. Thousands more are said to be massing at the border.
The Agency staff reported that on Sunday in the town of Gisenyi, about 4, 500 people crossed over from Goma, Zaire. It is estimated that 3,000 of those were Zairians and the rest were Rwandan refugees who fled to Zaire in 1994.
More than 10,000 people were estimated to have massed on the Goma side of the border where fighting continued north of the town. In Cyangugu, across the river from the Zairian town of Bukavu, an estimated 250 to 500 people had crossed into Rwanda.
The growth of agricultural production throughout the world was slowing because supplies were sufficient for consumers with the means to purchase food while the undernourished in developing countries needed more food but could not afford to buy it, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.
The Agency said the growth rate of world agricultural production was 3 per cent a year in the 1960s, 2.3 per cent in the 1970s, 2 per cent in 1980-92, and was now 1.8 per cent and would continue to drop in the period to the year 2010.
The figures were contained in "Food, Agriculture and Food Security: Development Since the World Food Conference and Prospects", one of a series of 14 technical background documents prepared for the World Food Summit to be held at FAO headquarters 13-17 November.
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