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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-12-22

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 22 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.

HEADLINES

  • General Assembly adopts new scale for UN dues; United States will still contribute 25 per cent of $2.5 billion two-year budget but review is possible.
  • Security Council reiterates its demand that Iraq cooperate fully with United Nations weapons inspectors.
  • Secretary-General's Special Representative, Mohamed Sahnoun, calls for comprehensive approach to problems of Great Lakes region.
  • UN official prepares report to Secretary-General on impact of sanctions against Libya.


The General Assembly on Monday adopted a new scale for apportioning dues among United Nations Member States.

The "scale of assessments" to be used for the next three years will retain the ceiling rate of 25 per cent. The United States, which is the only country assessed at that rate, had campaigned to lower it to 22 per cent initially, with an eventual reduction of its share to 20 per cent.

Adopting a resolution without a vote which sets out exactly what per cent each country will pay, the Assembly decided to consider reviewing the scale for the period 1999-2000 in the coming months, in the light of "all relevant factors, including the periodic reports of the Secretary- General on the status of contributions".

"Rather than offering a legalistic interpretation of our understanding of this resolution, let me simply describe it as an open door to permit a revisiting the scale for the years 1999-2000", United States Ambassador Bill Richardson told the Assembly. He stressed that his Government would work assiduously in the coming weeks and months to "make sure our entrance through that door receives a welcome from the United Nations". Ambassador Richardson stressed that his country was committed to working with other Member States to restore the financial health of the United Nations.

"The European Union wishes to make clear that it will only agree to a re- opening of the discussions after the United States has adopted legally binding provisions enabling it to clear its arrears in full and to respect its financial obligations under the United Nations Charter", said Jean- Louis Wolzfeld of Luxembourg, on behalf the European Union and associated States. "The possible entry-into-force of any revised scale cannot take place unless effective payment of the old monies has actually been received." Any unilateral reduction of the amounts owed to the Organization by the United States "cannot be accepted", he said.

Under the formula adopted, the smallest amount, to be paid by the countries with the least resources, has been lowered to 0.001 per cent. Among the factors considered in determining a country's capacity to pay are its gross national product, debt burden and per capita income.

The Assembly also adopted the 1998-1999 budget, totalling $2.532 billion. This reflects a reduction of some $61.2 million from the revised appropriations of about $2.603 billion.

"During one of our informals we were told that there was a check lying across the street waiting to cross the road", said Uganda's representative, Nester Odaga-Jalomayo. "We do hope that with the budget we have just adopted, well we hope that check will cross the road."


The Security Council on Monday reiterated its demand that Iraq cooperate fully with the Special Commission charged with overseeing the destruction of the country's weapons of mass destruction. The Council demanded that Iraq allow the Special Commission inspection teams "immediate, unconditional access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transportation which they wish to inspect".

In a statement read out by Council President Fernando Berrocal Soto on behalf of the members, the Council stressed that "failure by the Government of Iraq to provide the Special Commission with immediate, unconditional access to any site or category of sites is unacceptable and a clear violation of the relevant resolutions".

Ambassador Berrocal stressed that the effectiveness and speed with which the Special Commission may accomplish its responsibilities "is, above all, determined by the degree to which the Government of Iraq cooperates in disclosing the full extent and disposition of its proscribed programmes and in granting the Special Commission unimpeded access to all sites, documents, records and individuals". Iraq was called upon to cooperate fully with the Special Commission in implementing its mandate.

The Council expressed its full support for the Special Commission and its Executive Chairman, including in his ongoing discussions with officials of the Government of Iraq. It acknowledged that discussions on practical arrangements for implementing the Councils resolutions are ongoing.


Mohamed Sahnoun, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, is calling for a comprehensive approach to the problems in the Great Lakes regions. Commenting on his briefing to a closed meeting of the Security Council on Monday, Ambassador Sahnoun said, "I insisted on the fact that we should really look at the problems in a comprehensive manner." He called for dealing with political, humanitarian and development issues all at once. "We have to tackle the root causes. The root causes are economic, they are ecological, there is a degradation of the environment."

In an interview with UN Radio, Ambassador Sahnoun noted that Burundi and Rwanda were among the most densely populated countries in the world, placing great stress on scarce resources. "People feel insecure and this is one of the reasons why they fight each other or why they align themselves into ethnic or tribal groups", he said.

While stressing the need to tackle the root causes of the conflicts in the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Sahnoun also called for practical, immediate measures. He drew attention to the need to address questions of governance, the flow of arms and the problem of impunity.

Efforts are under way to deal with the underlying issues, according to Ambassador Sahnoun. He pointed out that the Secretary-General has taken a number of steps to promote development in the Great Lakes region, including appointing a task force and contacting all heads of UN agencies. "There are some meetings which are planned for the beginning of next year, and I understand that the President of the World Bank himself will be attending these meetings."


Vladimir Petrovsky, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, has travelled to New York to report to Secretary- General Kofi Annan on his recent trip to Libya.

Before they left Tripoli, the mission held a concluding meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, during which the Minister transmitted an oral message from Colonel Muammar Al- Qadhafi to the Secretary-General.

Mr. Petrovsky was dispatched to Libya along with a small team to meet with senior officials on the impact of Security Council-imposed sanctions on the country.

While in Libya, Mr. Petrovsky met with Libya's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Minister of Planning, Economy and Trade; Minister of Animal Wealth; Minister of Health and Social Affairs; Director of the Central Bank; Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Chairman of Health and Social Security Committee; and the President of the Agricultural Air Company.

The team, which also included Taye-Brook Zerihoun a Principal Officer in the Department of Political Affairs and Winston Tubman, a Principal Legal Officer, met with various senior professionals in Libya. These included engineers, doctors, pilots, local officials and programme managers. They visited Tripoli Airport, the Agricultural Air Company, a banana farm, a poultry and livestock farm, a pediatric hospital, a kidney transplant facility, a medical hospital and a cemetery. In addition, the team met with representatives of United Nations bodies in Libya, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).


For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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