DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL
FOR INFORMATION OF UNITED NATIONS SECRETARIAT ONLY
Ahmad Fawzi, Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, told correspondents at today's noon briefing that on the fourth day of his five- day visit to China, the Secretary-General had met with academics and representatives of United Nations agencies working in the country. He had also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahafs, who was coincidentally in Beijing at the same time. They had "constructive discussions" on the status of current negotiations on implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995) on the "oil-for-food formula". The third round of negotiations between the United Nations and Iraq, would resume on 8 April and could be at either the technical level again, or at the political level.
Mr. Fawzi said that the Secretary-General, in his address to more than 200 university professors and United Nations watchers from around China, had outlined reforms he had undertaken since assuming office. "No effort at reform could succeed as long as the primary concern of the Organization was mere survival", Mr. Fawzi quoted the Secretary-General as saying, and added that the United Nations was struggling at the moment just to stay above water. The Secretary- General had described the Organization's acute financial crisis. He emphasized the importance of peace-building as "a link between urgent efforts to deal with conflicts and the long-term struggle for development".
The Secretary-General had also cited as examples of the United Nations unique role in peace-building the pioneering work of United Nations personnel in "micro-disarmament", the collection and disposal of small arms responsible for most deaths in conflicts today. He had also cited the dangerous task of mine- clearance undertaken around the world by United Nations staff and said the United Nations had taken "the lead in calling for a ban on these hideous weapons", Mr. Fawzi added.
Later, the Secretary-General had a long and "free-wheeling" discussion with representatives of United Nations agencies on coordination within the United Nations system and the effects of new budgetary restraints on their programmes, Mr. Fawzi added. Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will fly to Seoul, Republic of Korea, on the second leg of his Asian tour. (Details on the Secretary-General's mission in China are available in Press Release SG/T/2038 issued today.)
Mr. Fawzi said a report by the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Javier Solana, had been submitted to the Security Council and was now issued as document S/1996/215, dated 22 March. It contained the letter from Mr. Solana to the Secretary-General and a report on the international Implementation Force (IFOR). According to the report, IFOR's future focus would shift increasingly from military to civilian aspects of peace
implementation and it would continue to assist the High Representative and civilian agencies in whatever ways it could..
Mr. Fawzi drew attention to an article today in the New York Times on the United Nations Human Rights Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA). He described it as "a very refreshing and most welcome report on one of the UN success stories".
The high-level meeting between Sierra Leone's head of State, Brigadier- General Julius Maada Bio, Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NRPC), and the leader of the Revolutionary United Front, Foday Sankoh, had ended successfully in Yamoussoukro, Cote D'Ivoire, Mr. Fawzi said. Although no final communique had been issued, the parties agreed to extend the current cease-fire and Mr. Sankoh had also agreed to continue the dialogue with the incoming administration of President Ahmed Gejan Tejan Kabba. The United Nations Special Representative in Sierra Leone, Berhanu Dinka, who acted as facilitator during the talks, had held three separate meetings with the RUF leader and would submit a comprehensive report to the Secretary-General. The Presidential investiture was still scheduled to take place on Friday in Freetown. Mr. Dinka would represent the Secretary-General.
Today, the Security Council was expected to hold consultations on the question of arms in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Mr. Fawzi continued. This morning, the Council considered the Secretary-General's letter and the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Rwanda. It was expected to adopt a resolution later today on the import/export mechanism for Iraq and Kuwait. The Secretary-General's report (document S/1996/210) on the International Police Task Force (IPTF), which the Council had expected to discuss yesterday, was being revised and would be taken up on Friday. Special Political Adviser Ismat Kittani briefed the Council yesterday on Takjikistan and Georgia. Tomorrow, it would meet with the Foreign Minister of Liberia, under the "Arria formula".
The Council also had before it a draft Presidential statement on arrangements for consultations and exchange of information between the Council and troop contributing countries. The statement says that it would keep the arrangements under review and would consider any measures and new mechanisms to further enhance the exchange of information in the light of experience.
The Commission on Human Rights, which was meeting in Geneva, was expected to adopt a resolution on Burundi today. The draft appeals for the international community to urgently provide increased humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in Burundi and refugees from neighbouring countries. It also calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to increase the number of monitors in the country and requests the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-first session. A copy of the draft was available in the Spokesman's office in English and French.
Daily Press Briefing - 3 - 27 March 1996
Carl Bildt, the High Representative, will be at United Nations Headquarters on 3 April for meetings with the Under-Secretary-General for Peace-keeping Operations, Kofi Annan, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Marrack Goulding, as well as correspondents, Mr. Fawzi said. A press conference had been tentatively arranged for 5:30 p.m. on that date, but Mr. Fawzi added he would check Mr. Bildt's timetable to see if better time could be arranged. He would explore the possibility of having Mr. Bildt meet the press at the noon briefing on 3 April.
A report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for the Former Yugoslavia, Elisabeth Rehn had been downloaded from an optical disc and was available in the Spokesman's Office.
Sadly, there had been no payments today to the United Nations regular budget, Mr. Fawzi continued. So far, 43 countries had paid their assessed contributions, which were due on 31 January. Outstanding payments still totalled $3 billion, with $1.2 owed to the regular budget and $1.8 billion owed for peace- keeping operations. However, checks were still coming in from concerned United States citizens. He asked if correspondents had heard a report on the topic this morning on National Public Radio.
A press conference would be held today at 1 p.m. in room 226 by the Foreign Minister for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muhamed Sacirbey, on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
In reply to a question, Mr. Fawzi said he would check if the United Kingdom had asked for any assistance from United Nations agencies in dealing with "mad cow disease". In reply to another question regarding the situation in the cafeteria at the United Nations, he said that, according to news reports, the United States was not importing any beef from the United Kingdom. He said he would also check on a World Health Organization (WHO)/Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meeting on the mad cow disease.
A correspondent asked for comment on the failure by the Fifth Committee yesterday to take any decision on the funding of the United Nations Human Rights Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) and the International Civilian Mission to Haiti (MICIVIH). Mr. Fawzi said it was so opportune that the New York Times article on MINUGUA should appear at the same time as the Fifth Committee meeting. It was a problem for Member States to resolve. The Secretary-General had written to the President of the General Assembly on the question two weeks ago and it was up to Member governments to find alternative sources of funding for those missions.
Referring to the Fifth Committee meeting, another correspondent said the United States delegate had again "insisted" that the budget of the Department of Public Information (DPI) be cut and asked if there had been any study done on the
Daily Press Briefing - 4 - 27 March 1996
matter. Mr. Fawzi said DPI had been mandated to perform certain functions and if its budget was cut then the mandates would be cut. However, the biennium budget had already been approved.
In reply to a question regarding the Secretary-General's ideas on "micro- disarmament", Mr. Fawzi said that it had always been a concern of the Secretary- General and "micro-disarmament" was one of the most serious challenges facing the international community today. Most of the injuries and deaths in modern conflicts were caused by small arms and, therefore, micro-disarmament, in the Secretary-General's view, deserved as much attention was just as the question of nuclear disarmament.
A correspondent asked about the Secretary-General's opinion on the establishment of an international criminal court and where the money to finance such a court would come from. Mr. Fawzi replied that the Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court would discuss a draft statute for a court. The Secretary-General, as a former professor of international law and international justice, believed the world needed such a court. Funding would have to be decided by the Member States and a plenipotentiary conference would have to approve the statute and foundation of the court.
Asked about the bonfire of weapons in Mali, he said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was holding a very special event today in Timbuktu, Mali, where the President would light a bonfire of weapons to mark the cease-fire and peace accord. Thousands of weapons had been collected, he said. A UNDP press release was available in the Spokesman's Office.
Were there any rules on setting up the "friends of the Secretary-General" and who decided what countries participated? a correspondent asked. Mr. Fawzi said that there were no set United Nations rules and procedures on the question of "friends" because it was a relatively recent phenomena. Normally, States neighbouring the area of conflict or countries with special interests in the region approached the Secretary-General and suggested they set up a group of friends to help him and support the United Nations. They were an ad hoc or informal grouping of States with a particular interest in the region.
Was there any report from the International Police Task Force (IPTF) on its work in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina? a correspondent asked. Mr. Fawzi said he did not have anything on Mostar, but the IPTF was having problems in some Sarajevo suburbs such as Ilidza, where the Federation Police were not cooperating and not allowing civilian police monitors to enter local police stations. The IPTF commissioner, Peter Fitzgerald, intended to take up his concerns with Federation authorities.
A correspondent asked whether there had been any progress in the investigation by the International Civilian Aviation Authority (ICAA) into the downing of two civilian planes by the Cuban air force. Mr. Fawzi said the
Daily Press Briefing - 5 - 27 March 1996
investigation was still under way and a report was due within 60 days of the Security Council resolution on the matter.
During the current United States presidential campaign there had been a lot of criticism of the United Nations and the Secretary-General, a correspondent said. Mr. Fawzi replied it was sometimes better to be mentioned with some amusement than be ignored. He added that Elizabeth Dole, the wife of Presidential candidate Bob Dole, had been a guide at the United Nations and had very fond memories of her days here. "What goes around comes around" he added.
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