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United Nations Daily Highlights 96-10-31

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Thursday, 31 October 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 emphasises need for regional conference on Great Lakes region; briefs Permanent Representatives from that region on actions taken.
  • Attention should be paid to economic, social and cultural rights which are at core of problems related to poverty - Economic and Financial Committee is told.
  • Women's equality cannot be achieved by stroke of pen, declarations and legal measures - Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee is told.
  • General Assembly hears that United States will not accept any enlargement of permanent membership of Security Council that does not include Germany and Japan.
  • World Food Programme decides to launch emergency airlift supplies to eastern Zaire.
  • Measures to counter illicit drug trafficking in Asia and Pacific will be focus of UN meeting in Manila.
  • Commissioner-General of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Near East is provisionally appointed as UN Special Coordinator in Occupied Territories.
  • Asia-Pacific Ministers adopt Action Plan to improve infrastructure.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has told the Security Council that despite the apparent lull following the coup of 25 July, the violence in Burundi has unfortunately reasserted itself very quickly. He said it was estimated that there had been over 10,000 casualties of the civil war since the coup.

In a report to the Security Council on the situation in Burundi, Dr. Boutros-Ghali stressed that it was imperative, more than ever, to get the process of negotiations well under way, adding that Burundi was again at a crossroad and that the next few weeks could be crucial.

"The key question is whether the parties to the conflict will succeed in embarking on a serious process of negotiation. Accordingly, the international community must continue to exert pressure to ensure the implementation of the programme of action adopted by the Arusha Summit on 12 October," he said.

The Secretary-General said in the absence of a comprehensive political settlement, the convening of a pledging conference to assist in the reconstruction and development of Burundi would have to wait.

He said he was extremely worried by the recent charges and counter charges between Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire, adding that it was more necessary than ever to convene the regional conference on peace, security and development of the Great Lakes region which had been under discussion for several years.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General told UN Radio on Thursday that the United Nations was confronted by a situation where the conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu groups was no more a national confrontation, but an international one.

He said the attacks on refugee camps would make the distribution of food supplies difficult. "As long as you have a camp, the distribution of food can be done according to a certain system, but if the refugees are spread all over the region it will be more difficult to offer them assistance," he added.

Dr. Boutros-Ghali said unless an international conference was held to try to find a solution, the region would not be able to maintain peace. He expressed his concern about the safety of more than 100 UN personnel who are unable to leave Goma.

In a separate but related development, the Secretary-General on Wednesday met with the Permanent Representatives of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire and briefed them on various actions to deal with the deteriorating situation in the Great Lakes region, including the appointment of Ambassador Raymond Chretien as his Special Envoy to that region, the Secretary-General's Spokesman Sylvana Foa announced today.

She said the Secretary-General informed the meeting that he was in contact with President Mobuto of Zaire and with that country's Prime Minister to appeal for help in diffusing the tension and allowing the evacuation of international staff.

The Spokesman said African Ambassadors welcomed the appointment of Ambassador Chretien and expressed appreciation for the Secretary- General's efforts to bring peace to the region. They appealed to the international community to support the Secretary-General's efforts, she said.

Attention should be paid to economic, social and cultural, rights, which were at the core of problems related to extreme poverty, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala-Lasso told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

The High Commissioner told the Committee that a Research and Right to Development Branch had been created in his office to act as a pivotal point for all development-related activities. He stressed that poverty eradication required the establishment of partnership between people living in poverty and the rest of society, based on mutual respect and recognition of rights and responsibilities.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the representative of Costa Rica stressed the need for a predictable and adequate flow of resources to those countries.

Drawing attention to the decline in resources for multilateral development institutions, he said that reallocation of resources, when their overall availability was uncertain, stagnant or shrinking, was unlikely to be sufficient to meet the challenge of poverty.

Women's equality could not be achieved by a stroke of the pen, declarations and legal measures, the representative of Nicaragua told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). She said it was a process which began with the way women viewed themselves in society.

Addressing the Committee as it concluded its discussion on advancement of women and the implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women, she said changes in attitudes towards women's role had begun in many industrialised countries.

She said women in her region faced the difficult problem of rebuilding their societies and healing wounds following decades of conflict, adding that they had to work to ensure their very survival and often all they had was courage. She said the Beijing Platform would have to be implemented gradually, in keeping with domestic realities, including the often scant resources available for women's advancement in many countries.

The United States would not accept any enlargement of the permanent membership of the Security Council that did not include Germany and Japan, the General Assembly was told as it continued its review on the progress of its Working Group on Council reform.

The representative of the United States went on to say that his Government would not agree to any change in the status, powers and obligations of the current permanent members, which were countries with global political and economic influence and a capacity to contribute to international peace and security. The total Council membership should not exceed twenty seats, he said.

Several member States noted that it was unlikely that the right of veto within the Council would be abolished any time soon. Others favoured a limitation of the right to veto, either by limiting its use to certain situations under Chapter VII of the Charter, or by procedural mechanisms.

Algeria noted that with the permanent members' refusal to accept any changes in the use of the veto, an opposition to the wish of the majority of Member States, a situation had been created in which no new permanent membership could be seriously envisaged.

The representative of Norway, speaking for the Nordic countries, said five new permanent seats should be created. In order to reflect political and economic realities, a country from Africa, one from Asia and another from Latin America and the Caribbean should be among new permanent members.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has decided to launch an emergency airlift of relief supplies to eastern Zaire. The airlift would grow in scope in the coming days and weeks, depending on needs and conditions on the ground, the Agency said.

Currently, the WFP was distributing food to the estimated 727,000 refugees in the Goma area, with food needs in that area estimated at 300 metric tons per day. Another distribution is planned for next week, at which time WFP food stocks would have been exhausted.

The Agency said the scope of the airlift would depend on security on the ground, the availability of ground transport, and the amount of airport tarmac space to be allotted to the WFP. The first flight was expected to carry mainly emergency food relations. Additional flights would also ferry supplies for other relief agencies.

New patterns in the illicit manufacture and distribution of heroin and synthetic stimulant drugs would be examined by heads of Asian and Pacific drug law-enforcement agencies, at a United Nations-sponsored meeting to be held in Manila from 4 to 8 November.

Among the topics to be discussed at the twenty-first meeting of the Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) of Asia and the Pacific would be an overview of cooperation in subregional law enforcement between governments and the UN International Drug Control Programme.

That Programme was collaborating with Asian and Pacific governments to facilitate cooperation in such areas as joint investigations, law- enforcement training, information-sharing and experience with measures to counter drug trafficking.

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Peter Hansen, has been provisionally appointed to the post of UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, to replace Mr. Terje Roed Larsen who had returned to Norway to join the new Government, the Spokesman to the Secretary- General Sylvana Foa said.

The Spokesman said Mr. Hansen would take over Mr. Larsen's duties, in addition to his current work as UNRWA Commissioner-General. The Special Coordinator serves as the focal point within the UN for activities undertaken in the context of the October 1993 Conference to support Middle East Peace, as well as for relations with the donor community and the World Bank.

The Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure, which began on 23 October, ended on Wednesday in New Delhi with countries gearing up for action on several fronts to improve the lot of their citizens.

The Conference, organised by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), also resulted in an invitation to the private sector to help speed the development of those countries.

During the six-day meeting, governments learned that there were enormous savings to be made by privatising public projects, increasing transparency, and cutting red tape.

Several initiatives were launched to jump-start cooperation between the private and public sectors, including the New Delhi Action Plan on Infrastructure (1997 - 2001) and the Asia Infrastructure Development Alliance. A Ministerial Declaration reaffirmed the commitment of ESCAP members and of multilateral and intergovernmental agencies to achieve the goals of the Action Plan.

The Plan calls for action at both country and regional levels to address problems in infrastructure development and operation. The Conference considered both sector-wide issues and those relating to specific sectors.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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