16 April 1997

Press Briefing



Juan Carlos Brandt, Associate Spokesman for the Secretary-General, announced at the beginning of today's noon briefing that Antigua and Barbuda had signed this morning the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), becoming the 144th nation to do so. Up to now, the Treaty was ratified by two countries: Fiji and Qatar, he added.

Turning to the situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Mr. Brandt told correspondents that the planned airlift of Rwandan refugees was in the final, logistical stage. "We have been able to secure three maps illustrating the probable route for the returnees, as well as refugee movements" in the area since last October and some other figures.

A donors consultation on Sierra Leone would take place on Friday in Geneva, Mr. Brandt said. The meeting had been convened by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and its main purpose was to review the strategy and the priorities of the current humanitarian programme in that country and to update the information contained in the appeal document. The 1997 United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sierra Leone was launched on 1 April, he reminded correspondents.

The Security Council had held a meeting this morning to read a presidential statement on Afghanistan, which called on all Afghan parties to immediately cease all hostile actions and to enter into sustained negotiations, Mr. Brandt said. Also according to the statement, the Council strongly believed that a negotiated settlement was the only solution to the long-standing conflict in that country. The Council then held consultations on Angola, followed by a formal meeting. It was expected to adopt a resolution that would extend the mandate of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) until 30 June. The Council was also expected to request a report from the Secretary-General, to be submitted by 6 June, on the establishment of a follow-up observer mission and his recommendations on that issue.

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Steffan de Mistura, had reported this morning that the distribution of wheat flour in the northern governorates of Dahuk and Suleimaniyah, which began on 14 April, was proceeding normally, Mr. Brandt said. Dahuk had received 900 metric tons up to now, and 2,000 metric tons had been distributed in Sulaymanyiah. In Irbil, distribution began yesterday and so far 1,600 metric tons had been distributed. He added that 4,500 metric tons of wheat flour were enough to satisfy the needs of approximately 500,000 people.

A total of 11 ships bearing food supplies had now reached Umm Qasr, with an estimated quantity of 280,000 metric tons of wheat and rice, Mr. Brandt continued. Correspondents could find more information in the most recent "986 Facts" bulletin, which outlined the participation of other United Nations agencies in the implementation of Security Council resolution 986 (1995) on the "oil-for-food" formula, including the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Recalling an announcement made yesterday, Mr. Brandt said the Secretary- General, after receiving an official reply from the Security Council yesterday afternoon, had appointed Tuliameni Kalomoh of Namibia as his new Special Representative for Liberia. The letters exchanged for that appointment were available on the racks as documents S/1997/312 and S/1997/313. A biographical note on the new Special Representative was also available in the Spokesman's office. Mr. Kalomoh would replace Anthony Nyakyi of the United Republic of Tanzania, who had held the post since December 1994, Mr. Brandt added.

Continuing, Mr. Brandt said: "As most of you know, we issued a statement from the Secretary-General regarding the tragic fire near Mecca, where many people lost their lives and were seriously injured. Since information on nationalities affected by this tragedy was not available by the time we issued the statement yesterday evening, I would like to use this opportunity, on behalf of the Secretary-General, to express his condolences to the Governments and peoples of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who were the most affected by that tragedy", Mr. Brandt said.

The Secretary-General had arrived in Germany and "hit the pavement running", Mr. Brandt went on to say. The Secretary-General had a meeting and working luncheon with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Klaus Kinkel. The issues discussed in those meetings included United Nations reform, Security Council reform, United Nations finances, the situations in Zaire, Albania and the Middle East, the status of Bonn and expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The meetings were followed by a joint press conference by Minister Kinkel and the Secretary-General, a transcript of which was later provided to correspondents.

Afterwards, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the President of the Bundestag and with the leader of one of the opposition parties, the Green Party, Mr. Brandt said. "When Fred [Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary- General] called, the Secretary-General was in a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag", he added. The Secretary-General was expected later to attend a dinner hosted by Mr. Kinkel, and his visit to Germany would continue tomorrow and Friday.

Returning to the situation in Zaire, Mr. Brandt told correspondents that the Secretary-General had repeatedly expressed his views on that issue, including in press conferences given abroad. "He believes the situation there

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should be about a military solution; the transition in Zaire needs to be managed, and the international community has to take a role in that situation. A military outcome could risk the breakdown of law and order in that country. The five-point peace plan needs to be implemented, starting with a cease-fire. Obviously, there are benefits to a peaceful transition which translates into international aid flowing into the country, reconstruction work, and so on. This could pave the way for prosperity", Mr. Brandt said, adding that he wished to remind correspondents on the Secretary-General's views, as he had received several questions on that specific matter.

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was launching today its "1997 Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific", Mr. Brandt said. The Commission would also hold, from 23 to 30 April in Bangkok its fiftieth anniversary session. Further information would be made available either from the Spokesman's office or on the racks.

The status of Member States contributions to the Organization as of 31 March had been issued as document ST/ADM/SER.B/509, Mr. Brandt said. As of that date, contributions received for the regular budget amounted to $573.7 million. Of that total, $429.1 million constituted payments against the current year's assessment, representing 38.6 per cent of the total. At the same time last year, 41.9 per cent of that year's assessment had been received.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Nafis Sadik, would speak this Friday on "Sexual Violence against Refugees: The Ultimate Violation", at the Boat House in Central Park, Mr. Brandt announced. Women who had directly experienced such violence, as well as United States representative Nita Lowey would also take part in that event, scheduled to be held from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. It was sponsored by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children and was open to the press. Interested correspondents were invited to contact Elizabeth Walker at (212) 551-3086.

Thursday 24 April was "Take Our Daughters to Work Day", Mr. Brandt announced, "for the benefit of those among you who are fortunate enough to have daughters". That was the third or fourth time such an event was celebrated at the United Nations; all kinds of activities were being planned, he said, and more information would be given later on.

Mr. Brandt said that upcoming press conferences included this afternoon's panel discussion on "Building Drug-Free Sustainable Cities and Towns" in Conference Room 7, from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., organized by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).

Also this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in room 226 a press conference would be held on "The Role of Local Government in Implementing Agenda 21", Mr. Brandt

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said. Leaders from cities around the world would discuss those efforts, including a summary of initiatives which they would present to the Commission on Sustainable Development today at a dialogue session. Participants at that conference would include the Chairman of the Dubai Municipality (United Arab Emirates), Qassem Sultan Al-Banna; the Mayor of Marrakesh (Morocco), Adnane Ben Abdellah; the Mayor of Cajamarca (Peru), Luis Guerrero; the Deputy Mayor of Barcelona (Spain), J.M. Vergara; and from the United Kingdom, Judith Mayhew, from the London City Council and Peter Souslby from Leicester City Council.

Also on room 226 on Friday at 11:15 a.m. there would be a press conference sponsored by the Norwegian Mission to launch the "Sustainable Business Challenge '97: The Global Environment Literacy Campaign", Mr. Brandt said. Speakers included the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Professor Jan Olaf Willums. At 1 p.m. on Friday, the Commission on Sustainable Development would hold a press conference featuring the Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Maria Livanos Cattaui, and the Executive Director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Bjorn Stigson.

A correspondent inquired about the Secretary-General's return to Headquarters. Mr. Brandt said that the Secretary-General would be back in his office by Tuesday, 22 April.

What was the latest on the parking issue? a correspondent asked. Was it going to the General Assembly, and when? he added. Mr. Brandt said that last Friday, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, had been "given or shown, I am not completely sure which", a preliminary text of a revised set of rules that was presented to him by the United States Mission. "He had a chance to see this document, and my understanding is, again on a preliminary basis, that he did not see anything that might be construed as a violation of international law, specifically of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity." He added that the document may have since reached the Chairman of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and Committee members had perhaps had the chance to review it as well. "In any case, this matter was still being worked on", said Mr. Brandt.

Was that a document from the State Department, or from the City of New York? the correspondent asked. "The document came from the United States Mission to the United Nations", Mr. Brandt responded, adding that he was not aware of any scheduled meeting as yet of the Host Country Committee.

How many replies had been received regarding the proposed emergency special session of the General Assembly on the situation in the occupied territories? a correspondent asked. "Seventy at last count", Mr. Brandt replied.

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The Secretary-General, according to a news dispatch, had referred again to the problem of globalization and how that policy marginalized countries, including the entire African continent, a correspondent said. Did he have any proposal on that issue? he asked. Mr. Brandt said that he had not seen that specific statement but would make inquiries to that effect.

Were there any more details on the Secretary-General's discussions on the subject of Albania? a correspondent asked. Mr. Brandt said that at present he had few details, "but logic dictated that the Secretary-General had probably briefed the German Foreign Minister on his recent discussions on Albania with Italian officials and how that mission was developing".

Was the United Nations contemplating the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Transitional Administration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) which expires in July, since there were so many irregularities in the voting process in Eastern Slavonia and renewed threats of the Croatian Government to the local Serbs? a correspondent asked. Mr. Brandt said that it was up to the Security Council to take the decision on UNTAES. He also reminded the correspondent that the UNTAES Transitional Administrator Jacques Klein had said that so far everything seem to indicate that the elections had been "free, fair and full". Mr. Klein would in time report on the situation there and the Council would use that information to make its decision regarding the UNTAES mandate.

What about the extension of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), due to expire on 31 May? a correspondent asked. Would the Council discuss it this week? Mr. Brandt said the Security Council would have to decide. Hiro Ueki, of the Spokesman's office, added that the matter was not scheduled for this week.

Over the weekend the United States had sent 200 units from its 82nd division airborne to Haiti, a correspondent said and asked: what was that all about? Mr. Brandt referred the correspondent to the United States Mission, adding that it was not the first time that the United States Government organized exercises near Haiti.

Would the United Nations building be closed tomorrow, Thursday? a correspondent asked. It was an official United Nations holiday, Mr. Brandt said. The Spokesman's office and relevant offices would have weekend staffing arrangements.

Samsiah Abdul-Majid, spokeswoman for the President of the General Assembly, then informed correspondents of the four issues to be considered by the Assembly at its meeting next Friday morning, 18 April. It would consider a note by its President, Razali Ismail (Malaysia) concerning participation of major groups in the nineteenth special session of the General Assembly [to be held from 23 to 27 June], to review the implementation of Agenda 21, the

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programme of action adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED).

"You may recall that the Assembly, before it concluded the main part of its session last December, invited the President, in consultation with Member States, to propose appropriate modalities for the effective involvement of major groups in the special session", she said.

The President, she continued, had consulted with Member States and had distributed a note containing a draft decision, by which the Assembly would decide that major groups, including non-governmental organizations, would be invited to participate in the plenary meetings of the special session. Those groups that could not be accommodated in the debate might be invited to address the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the session, she added.

The Assembly would have before it two other items, Ms. Abdul-Majid continued. One of them concerned the appointment of a member of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), to serve out the term of office of Wolfgang Stockl (Germany), which would expire on 31 December 1998. The Government of Germany had nominated Klaus Stein, Counsellor at its Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Vice-Chairman of the Assembly's Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to fill that vacancy. The ACABQ, she reminded correspondents, examined the regular and peace-keeping budgets of the United Nations and advised the Assembly on other administrative and financial matters; its members served for three years.

The other item referred to the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), Ms. Abdul-Majid said. The Assembly was due to appoint a member of the Commission to serve the unexpired portion of the term of office of Andre Xavier Pirson (Belgium), which ran through 31 December 1998. The Government of Germany had nominated Counsellor Stockl to fill the vacancy arising from the resignation of Mr. Pirson. The Commission, comprising experts serving in their individual capacities, was responsible for making recommendations to the Assembly on regulation and coordination of conditions of service within the United Nations; its members served for a period of four years.

The last item before the Assembly on Friday would be the request of Antigua and Barbuda to be a member of the Special Committee on decolonization, Ms. Abdul-Majid said. The Committee examined the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

Was there still to be a meeting on 28 April on the expansion of the Security Council? a correspondent asked. Ms. Abdul-Majid confirmed that the next series of meetings of the working group on Security Council reform would begin on 28 April.

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For information media. Not an official record.