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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-15

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Monday, 15 December 1997

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.


  • General Assembly adopts international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings.
  • Security Council members express concern at deteriorating security situation in Rwanda.
  • Head of UN Office in Geneva and his team meet several Libyan officials.
  • UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara has identified over 2,300 potential voters.
  • Secretary-General calls for new approaches to ensure that two communities in Cyprus continue negotiations.
  • General Assembly calls on parties to fully implement Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • United Nations investigative team is evacuated from Mbandaka in Congo- Kinshasa for security reasons.
  • Technology for small business is key for regional growth in Latin America and Caribbean, UN Commission says.

The General Assembly on Monday adopted an International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. It did so on the recommendation of its Legal (Sixth) Committee by means of a resolution adopted without a vote.

The 24-article Convention defines a terrorist bomber as a person who unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates a bomb, explosive, lethal or incendiary device in, into or against a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system or an infrastructure facility, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or the destruction of such a place resulting in major economic loss.

The Convention specifies crimes which are extraditable under treaties which States parties sign among themselves. It explicitly does not govern the military activities of States in armed conflict or in exercise of their official duties.

States which ratify the Convention must take steps to establish their jurisdiction over terrorist bombings committed in their territories. They can also have jurisdiction when the offences are committed against their nationals or facilities abroad.

The Convention will be open for signature from 12 January 1998 to 31 December 1999, and will enter into force thirty days after the twenty second state party has ratified it.

The Assembly adopted another resolution, without a vote, by which it decided that the committee elaborating an international convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism should meet from 16 to 27 February 1998 to continue its work. The Assembly strongly condemned all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever committed. It reiterated that criminal acts intended to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes, were unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that might be invoked to justify them.

The Assembly called upon all States to implement specific measures, including consultations on improving the capability of governments to deal with terrorist attacks, research and development on the detection of explosives and other harmful substances, and measures to counter the financing of terrorists and terrorist organizations.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution on the establishment of an international criminal court recommending that the United Nations conference of plenipotentiaries which is to finalize and adopt a convention to establish the court, be held in Rome from 15 June to 17 July next year.

The Assembly adopted a series of other resolutions on the recommendation of its Legal Committee, addressing, among others, a Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency; the Convention of Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property; the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law; the United Nations Decade of International Law; and the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.

By a resolution on the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, the Assembly called upon the United States, as the host country, to review measures and procedures relating to the parking of diplomatic vehicles, and to resolve the parking problem in order to maintain appropriate conditions for the functioning of delegations and missions in a way that was fair, non- discriminatory, efficient and consistent with international law. The Assembly would consider it important that any new parking regulations proposed by the host country for the diplomatic community be worked out in consultation with the Host Country Committee, with due regard being given to diplomatic privileges and immunity.

The President of the Security Council, Ambassador Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica, on Monday told reporters that members of the Council strongly condemned the recent brutal massacre of 227 refugees at Mudende in Rwanda as well as all killings of non-combatants.

Council members urged the Government of Rwanda to cooperate fully with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the protection of all refugees in the country, Ambassador Berrocal Soto said.

Members of the Council also urged the Government to respect all human rights, in particular when performing its counter-insurgency operations. They also stressed the importance of enabling the United Nations High Representative for Rwanda to carry out his monitoring mandate.

The members expressed their full support for the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to improve its effectiveness and to play a constructive role in cooperation with the Rwandan Government.

The Head of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Vladimir Petrovsky, and his team have met a number of Libyan Government officials. The purpose of Mr. Petrovsky's mission is to assess the impact of sanctions against Libya.

Among the officials met by the United Nations team was the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Trade, the Governor of Central Bank, the Director of Civil Aviation Authority and others. The team was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Health and Social Affairs on Monday.

During the visit the team is also expected to meet with the United Nations staff working in Libya, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The United Nations team is expected to complete its mission in Libya on Thursday, 18 December.

Libya is facing Security Council sanctions because of the government's failure to surrender suspects in the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland on 21 December 1991.

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has identified 2,386 potential voters since resuming its work on 3 December. The Referendum aims to provide the people of the territory with a choice between independence and integration with Morocco.

According to a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, the Frente Popular para la Liberaci˘n de SaguĦa el-Hamra y RĦo de Oro (POLISARIO) and the Government of Morocco are cooperating with the identification process. "The strenuous effort that has been made to ensure the successful resumption of the identification process and the renewed expression by both parties of their commitment to full implementation of the settlement plan encourages me to believe that MINURSO will be able to complete its tasks", writes the Secretary- General. He stresses, however, that "all elements of the timetable must be strictly adhered to, including the provision of the necessary resources in full and on time".

The identification process resumed at Laayoune and Camp Smara in the Tindouf region, according to the letter. Two more identification centres were opened on 8 December, at Camp Dakhla in the Tindouf region and at Smara. A fifth centre is scheduled to open in southern Morocco on 15 December, and a second centre at Laayoune will become operational one week later.

The re-establishment of the civilian police component of MINURSO is also under way. The Secretary-General states that there are now 48 officers in the component.

The military component of MINURSO continues to monitor the ceasefire between the Royal Moroccan Army and the Frente POLISARIO. "The situation in the mission area remains stable, with no significant indications that either side intends to resume hostilities", the letter states.

In a new report on his good offices mission in Cyprus, Secretary- General Kofi Annan has called for new ways of approaching the situation to ensure the continuation of negotiations.

"I remain convinced that it is essential to adopt new approaches and to ensure that the two community leaders will enter upon, as soon as possible, a continuing and sustained process of negotiations that will focus on the preparation of the actual legal instruments that will constitute the settlement."

The report summarizes recent developments, including two rounds of talks between the leaders of the two communities. "In discussions I had in New York with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, on 6 October and 3 November, respectively, I urged both leaders to show their political will to reach a settlement", the Secretary- General wrote. He stressed that he remained committed to continuing the good offices mission "bearing in mind that the electoral process is now quite naturally engaging the priority attention of the Greek Cypriot leader and his community.

The General Assembly on Monday reiterated its demand for the full, comprehensive and consistent implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the "Dayton Agreement").

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly called for the repeal of all property laws which prevent pre-war residents from returning to their homes. It also reaffirmed the right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes of origin, and called upon the parties immediately to establish the conditions to make this possible. The Assembly also demanded that all acts of intimidation, violence and killings, including those designed to discourage the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons, be investigated and prosecuted. The parties were also called upon to cooperate fully in ensuring the substantial functioning of all of the country's common institutions.

The Assembly also urged all the parties to the Peace Agreement to implement fully and without delay the results of the recent municipal elections in all municipalities.

The resolution further expressed the Assembly's full support for the efforts of the United Nations International Police Task Force, and called for the full representation of the parties with those efforts.

Concerning the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Assembly insisted on the need to deliver all indictees to the Tribunal for trial. It underlined the obligation of all the parties to arrest and surrender to the Tribunal all such persons in territories under their control and to cooperate with the Tribunal's work. Member States were urged to offer financial and other support to the Tribunal and to carry out their obligations under its statute.

Meanwhile, at the seat of the Court in The Hague, its Prosecutor, Louise Arbor, met with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine to discuss various aspects of cooperation between France and the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. "While recognizing that the French authorities had recently made efforts to improve the cooperation with the Tribunals, I said that this progress remains modest and expressed the hope that it would increase", she said.

The Prosecutor also asked Mr. Vedrine to intervene in order to effect a review of the position recently taken by the French Minister of Defence with regard to the potential testimony of French military before both International Tribunals. "I hope that the French authorities will agree to discuss this fundamental issue with me in a spirit of cooperation, in conformity with international procedures and in the interest of justice."

The United Nations team sent to investigate allegations of violations of human rights in Congo-Kinshasa has been evacuated from Mbandaka to Kinshasa.

According to a United Nations Spokesman, the evacuation of the investigators from the northwestern town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Sunday was prompted by security concerns.

Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told the press on Monday that there was a large demonstration outside the camp housing the investigators who went to Mbandaka to probe allegations of massacres during the campaign against former President Mobutu Seseko. Members of the United Nations team included forensic experts.

Spokesman Brandt said that the security situation has to be assessed before making the decision to return to Mbandaka.

In another location at Wendji, traditional leaders gave the United Nations investigators a list of demands which include money and provisions. According to the United Nations Spokesman, the traditional leaders said that the team could not carry out its work before fulfilling those demands. The investigators in Wendji were also withdrawn to Kinshasa.

A new publication of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) says that technology for small and medium business is key for growth in the region.

An article in the latest issue of ECLAC Review (No.63) says that small- scale production generates income and employment for large segments of the population and plays an important role in economic growth. Francisco Alburqueque, investigator of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations of Spain, urges governments to adopt a new and less centralized approach towards small and medium business. That, he says, could be done through "non-bureaucratic institutions endowed with agility and operative efficiency".

According to a study of the average gross domestic products (GDP) of 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries in 1994, 23 per cent of the total GDP came from exports while 77 per cent of GDP originated from local and national businesses.

Alburqueque says that Governments tend to lose sight of this trend and focus on the global marketplace "as if their economic development depended on it". He argues that what is required is national and territorial development strategies to ensure the introduction and diffusion of technological and organizational innovations in the different national and local economic systems. Instead of searching for niches in the global economy, governments should help small and medium businesses increase their efficiency and adapt to an uncertain future.

Alburqueque says that in the absence of specific policies to meet the problems of these business in different local production systems considerably limits any strategy for economic growth.

For information purposes only - - not an official record

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

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