Press Release GA/9691 - 19991217
Other Actions Aimed at Increasing Security of Humanitarian Personnel, Demining Cooperation, Return of Cultural Property; Observer Status Granted to IUCN
The General Assembly this afternoon decided to remove the question of East Timor from its agenda and next year to consider a new agenda item, entitled, "the situation in East Timor during its transition to independence".
The Assembly took that action without a vote as it adopted a text by whose terms welcomed the successful conduct of the popular consultation of the East Timorese people on 30 August. It took note of the outcome of the consultation, which begins a process of transition for East Timor, under the authority of the United Nations, towards independence.
Also this afternoon, the Assembly established the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti to consolidate the results achieved in that country by previous United Nations missions. That action was taken without a vote, as were actions on: emergency international assistance for war-stricken Afghanistan; return or restitution of cultural property; demining; security of United Nations humanitarian personnel; and emergency assistance to the Sudan. Also without a vote, if granted draft on observer status to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The Assembly decided that the initial mandate of the new Haiti mission will begin at the closing of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti and continue until 6 February 2001, and that the mandate of the International Civilian Support Mission will continue until the commencement of the new mission.
In successive resolutions, the Assembly called for the following measures:
-- It stressed the need for Operation Lifeline Sudan to be operated and managed with a view to ensuring its efficiency, transparency and effectiveness, with the full involvement and cooperation of the Government of the Sudan. It further condemned the detention of humanitarian personnel in that country and called for investigation of all allegations of such incidents, including an investigation into the whereabouts of the 11 personnel of the sub-Saharan international development organizations last seen in rebel-held areas.
-- For Afghanistan, it called upon all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to immediately cease all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage in a political dialogue under United Nations auspices aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict by creating a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government. In particular, it urged the Taliban and other Afghan parties to refrain from all acts of violence against civilians, including women and children. It strongly condemned the sharp escalation of the conflict, and the fact that foreign military support to the Afghan parties had continued unabated through 1999.
-- Regarding the of return or restitution of cultural property to countries of origin, the Assembly called upon relevant elements of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations to work in coordination with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), within their mandates and in cooperation with Member States, to continue to address that issue.
-- It called for continuing efforts by the Organization, with the assistance of States and institutions, to foster the establishment of mine action capacities in countries where mines constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the local population.
-- The Assembly also urged all States to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and United Nations personnel, and to respect and ensure respect for the inviolability of United Nations premises. It also strongly condemned any act or failure to act that obstructs or prevents such personnel from discharging their humanitarian functions.
Also this afternoon, the Assembly decided to defer considerations of the question of the Comorian island of Mayotte and to place it on the agenda of its next session.
It decided to consider the recommendations of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on Wednesday, 22 December, in the morning.
Statements were made this afternoon by the representatives of Greece, Algeria, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Cameroon, the United States, Canada, Sudan, Saint Lucia, Haiti, Norway, Nicaragua, Argentina, France, Venezuela, Indonesia, Portugal, Ecuador, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The Assembly will meet again on Monday, 20 December, at 10 a.m. to continue discussion of reform of the Security Council.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider: emergency international assistance to Afghanistan; return or restitution of cultural property to countries of origin; assistance in mine action; question of the Comorian island of Mayotte; strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations; the situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti; question of East Timor; and observer status in the Assembly for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It had before it related reports of the Secretary-General, of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), and draft resolutions.
Emergency International Assistance for Peace, Normalcy and Reconstruction of War-stricken Afghanistan
A 65-Power draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/54/L.58) is divided into two parts: part A is entitled "The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security", part B is entitled "Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan".
By the terms of part A of that draft text, the Assembly would stress that the main responsibility for finding a political solution to the conflict lies with the Afghan parties, and would urge all of them to respond to the repeated calls for peace by the United Nations.
It would also call upon all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to cease immediately all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage in a political dialogue under United nations auspices aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict by creating a broad- based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.
The Assembly would also urge the Taliban and other Afghan parties to refrain from all acts of violence against civilians, including women and children. It would strongly condemn the sharp escalation of the conflict, and the fact that foreign military support to the Afghan parties continued unabated through 1999. It would call upon all States to refrain from any outside interference and to end the supply of arms, ammunition, military equipment, training or any other military support to all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Assembly would support the intention of the Secretary-General to strengthen the United Nations Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA), in particular by appointing a new Head of Mission, by progressively moving its head office to Kabul, and by increasing its presence in neighbouring countries. It would redouble the efforts of the UNSMA to achieve a durable political settlement by facilitating an immediate and durable cease-fire and the resumption of a dialogue between the Afghan parties.
It would also express deep concern at the lack of tangible progress in the Taliban’s investigations of the death, serious injury or disappearance of international or national staff members and other persons employed by the United Nations, and would urge the Taliban to proceed with the immediate and thorough investigation of those cases. It would reiterate its condemnation of the killing of the diplomatic and consular staff of the Consulate-General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mazar-e-Sharif and the correspondent of the Islamic Republic News Agency.
The Assembly would also strongly demand that all Afghan parties, and in particular the Taliban, refrain from providing sanctuary or training for international terrorists and their organizations, cease the recruitment of terrorists, close down terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan, ensure that the territory under its control is not used for terrorist organizations and camps, and take the necessary steps to cooperate with efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice without delay.
It would also reiterate its call to all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to halt illegal drug activities and to support international efforts to ban illicit drug production and trafficking. It would call on those same parties to protect the cultural and historic relics and monuments of Afghanistan from acts of vandalism, damage and theft.
By the terms of part B of the draft, the Assembly would stress that the responsibility for the humanitarian crisis lies with all warring parties, in particular with the Taliban, and would strongly condemn the forced displacement of civilian populations, the torching of residential houses, the burning of crops, the cutting of fruit trees and the deliberate destruction of infrastructure.
It would urge all Afghan parties to respect international humanitarian law and to ensure the safety, security and free movement of all United Nations and humanitarian personnel and the protection of the property of the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, including non-governmental organizations. It would condemn all interference in the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies to the Afghan people as a violation of international humanitarian law, and would note the recent lifting of the blockade in central Afghanistan by the Taliban.
The Assembly would further denounce the continuing discrimination against girls and women as well as ethnic and religious groups, including minorities, and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan, and would call upon all parties within Afghanistan to respect fully human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. It would strongly urge all the Afghan parties to end discriminatory policies and to recognize, protect and promote the equal rights and dignity of women and men. It would urge all Afghan parties to prohibit conscripting or enlisting children or using them to participate in hostilities in violation of international law.
It would call upon the international community to respond to the inter- agency consolidated appeal for emergency humanitarian and rehabilitation assistance in Afghanistan, launched by the Secretary-General on 23 November 1999 for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2000, bearing in mind the availability also of the Afghanistan Emergency Trust Fund.
The draft resolution is co-sponsored by Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan.
According to the report of the Fifth Committee on the Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/54/L.58 (document A/54/671) the Fifth Committee decided to inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt draft resolution A/54/L.58, the requirements of $3,407,600 would be charged against the provision of $90,387,200 for special political missions requested in section 3, Political Affairs, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001.
Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to the Countries of Origin
By the terms of the draft resolution on the return or restitution of cultural property (document A/54/L.47/Rev.1), the Assembly would call upon relevant bodies, agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system and other relevant intergovernmental organizations to work in coordination with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in order to continue to address the issue of return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin, and to provide appropriate support accordingly. It would also ask the Secretary-General to cooperate with UNESCO, in its efforts to develop all possibilities for bringing about the attainment of the objectives of the present resolution.
Assistance in Mine Action
By terms of a draft resolution on assistance in mine action (document A/54/L.71) the Assembly would call for continuing efforts of the Organization, with the assistance of States and institutions as appropriate, to foster establishment of mine action capacities in countries where mines constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the local population. It would also call for extending those efforts to countries where mines are an impediment to social and economic development efforts at the national and local levels, and would emphasize the importance of developing national mine action capacities. Also, it would urge all Member States, particularly those that have the capacity to do so, to assist mine-affected countries in establishing and developing national capacities in mine clearance and awareness, as well as victim assistance.
Further, it would appeal to governments, regional organizations and other donors to continue their support to mine action through further contributions, including through the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, to allow for timely delivery of mine action assistance in emergency situations. By other terms, it would encourage all relevant multilateral and national programmes and bodies to include, in coordination with the United Nations, activities related to mine action in their humanitarian, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development assistance activities, bearing in mind the need to ensure national ownership, sustainability and capacity-building.
By other terms, the Assembly would stress the importance of international support for emergency assistance to victims of mines, and stress that such assistance should be integrated into broader public health and socio-economic strategies. It would urge Member States, regional organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations to continue to extend full assistance and cooperation to the Secretary-General and provide him with information and data, as well as other appropriate resources that could be useful in strengthening the coordination role of the Organization. Further, it would emphasize the importance of recording the location of mines, of retaining those records and making them available to concerned parties on cessation of hostilities.
The Assembly would also emphasize the role of the United Nations Mine Action Service as the focal point for mine action within the system and its ongoing collaboration with and coordination of all mine-related activities of the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.
The draft resolution is co-sponsored by Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Strengthening of Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
By the terms of a draft resolution on the security of United Nations humanitarian personnel (document A/54/L.70), the Assembly would urge all States to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and United Nations and associated personnel, and to respect and ensure respect for the inviolability of United Nations premises. The Assembly would call on all governments and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations, and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel in order to allow them to efficiently perform their task of assisting the affected civilian population. It would strongly condemn any act or failure to act which obstructs or prevents humanitarian personnel and United Nations personnel from discharging their humanitarian functions.
By further terms of the text, the Assembly would ask the Secretary- General to take the necessary measures to ensure full respect for the human rights, privileges and immunities of United Nations and other personnel carrying out activities in fulfilment of the mandate of a United Nations operation, and to continue to consider ways and means to strengthen the protection of such personnel. It would urge all States to ensure that any threat or act of violence committed against humanitarian personnel on their territory is fully investigated and that all appropriate measures, in accordance with international law and national legislation, are taken to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are prosecuted.
The Assembly would urge all States to provide adequate and prompt information in the event of arrest or detention of the Organization's humanitarian personnel, to afford them the necessary medical assistance, and to allow independent medical teams to visit and examine the health of detainees. It would also urge all States to take necessary measures to ensure the speedy release of United Nations and other personnel who have been arrested or detained in violation of their immunity. It would ask the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to ensure that security matters are an integral part of the planning for existing and newly mandated United Nations operations, and that such precautions extend to all United Nations and associated personnel.
The draft is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Special Economic Assistance to Individual Countries or Regions
According to a draft resolution sponsored by Algeria and Cameroon on emergency assistance to the Sudan (document A/54/L.72/Rev.1), the General Assembly would stress the need for Operation Lifeline Sudan to be operated and managed with a view to ensuring its efficiency, transparency and effectiveness, with the full involvement and cooperation of the Government of the Sudan, taking cognizance of the relevant agreements reached by the parties, as well as consultations in the preparation of the consolidated annual inter-agency appeal for the operation.
It would acknowledge with appreciation the cooperation by the Government of the Sudan with the United Nations, including the agreements and arrangements achieved to facilitate relief operations with a view to improving United Nations assistance to the affected areas. It would also encourage the continuation of that cooperation and call upon all parties to the conflict to respect the current humanitarian ceasefire to ensure delivery of relief assistance. Further, it would call upon the donor community and organizations of the system to provide financial, technical and medical assistance, and would urge the international community to continue to support national programmes of rehabilitation, voluntary resettlement and reintegration of returnees and the internally displaced, as well as assistance to refugees.
By further terms of the draft, the Assembly would condemn the detention of humanitarian personnel and would call for appropriate investigations into all allegations of such incidents, including into the whereabouts of the 11 personnel of the sub-Saharan international development organizations last seen in rebel-held areas. The situation of democracy and Human Rights in Haiti
According to the Secretary-General’s report, preparations to get the electoral process under way and the manoeuvering of the various political parties had dominated the period of the report. Political activities had led to intolerance, reports of threats, harassment and continuing mistrust among the various factions. Organizing elections in such an atmosphere was difficult, with questions constantly raised about the capacity of those involved to hold well organized elections. Consultations between the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and political parties were boycotted by two major parties, but the organization still published an initial draft of the Electoral Law. There was some dissatisfaction over the designation of the document as law in the absence of a sitting Parliament, but it was generally accepted by most parties. The CEP had since started to put the electoral apparatus in place. The first round of elections is due to take place on 19 March 2000, but no firm date had been announced for the second round.
The report states that the Haitian National Police remained a fragile institutions, weakened by internal shortcomings and external pressures. Its credibility was further damaged by accusations of summary executions of individuals, the sudden resignation of the Secretary of State for Public Security, and the assassination of the person rumoured to replace him. Conditions in prisons and detention centres were inadequate, but measures were being taken to remedy that situation, and the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) had also been working closely with assistants of the Directorate of the Penitentiary to this end.
Further, the report states that the shortcomings and systematic weakness that plagued the functioning of the judicial system persisted. It was hoped that recently adopted remedial measures would herald a new will to change the system. The MICIVIH was also encouraging urgent implementation of the action plan presented by the former Minister of Justice to the international community in July 1998, which set out proposals in the areas of access to justice, institutional development and international cooperation.
In conclusion, the report states that the mandate for MICIVIH, which had been deployed in Haiti since February 1993, had evolved with the changing realities of the situation on the ground. In the light of the current situation, the General Assembly might wish to consider the establishment of a new mission to consolidate the gains achieved by the Haitians with the support of MICIVIH and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), as requested by the President of Haiti, René Préval, on 8 November 1999. The new mission should pursue a coordinated and integrated approach to enhance the effectiveness of governance, respect for human rights, and the reinforced institutional effectiveness of the police and judiciary.
Letter Dated 22 November 1999 from the Secretary-General Addressed to the President of the General Assembly
In a letter to the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary- General states that in his reports to the Assembly (document A/54/29) on the situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti, and to the Security Council on MIPONUH, the need to continue to assist the Haitian people after the end of the mandates of the MICIVIH and MIPONUH was underlined. In this context a needs assessment mission was sent to the country between 11 to 15 October 1999 to make recommendations on the continuation of the missions. The needs assessment mission was unanimous in its conclusion that the new mission should pursue a coordinated and integrated approach to enhance the effectiveness of governance, to improve the climate of respect for human rights, and to reinforce the institutional effectiveness of the police and the judiciary. Attached to the Secretary-General’s letter was a letter from Haitian President René Préval requesting continued support from the international community.
International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti: draft resolution
By the terms of a draft resolution (A/54/L.36), the Assembly would decide, at the request of the President of Haiti, to establish the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti to consolidate the results achieved by the International Civilian Mission in Haiti, the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti and previous United Nations missions. It would also decide that the initial mandate of the International Civilian Support Mission, will begin at the closing of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission and continue until 6 February 2001, and that mandate of the International Civilian Mission will continue until the commencement of the International Civilian Support Mission.
The Assembly would also decide that the personnel and goods of the International Civilian Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission will be transferred to the International Civilian Support Mission, as needed. It would further decide that the Mission shall have the mandate to support the democratization process and assist the Haitian authorities with the development of democratic institutions; to assist the Haitian authorities in the reform and strengthening of the Haitian system of justice, including its penal institutions, and to promote the Office of the Ombudsman; to support the efforts of the Government of Haiti to professionalize the Haitian National Police through a special training and technical assistance programme, and help the Government to coordinate bilateral and multilateral aid in that area; to support the efforts of the Government of Haiti aimed at the full observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to provide technical assistance for the organization of democratic elections and collaborate with the Government of Haiti in the coordination of bilateral and multilateral assistance.
By the terms of the same draft text, the Assembly would endorse the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council contained in resolutions E/1999/11 of 27 July, that the Secretary-General take the necessary steps, in agreement with the Government of Haiti, and making use of the appropriate United Nations presence there, to develop on a priority basis a long-term strategy and programme of support for Haiti.
The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to coordinate with the Government of Haiti and interested Member States on modalities to ensure support from the international community for the electoral processes under way in Haiti. In this regard, it would request the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to continue its work relating to support of the Haitian electoral processes. The Assembly would also authorize the Secretary-General to utilize the amounts allocated in the regular budget for the International Civilian Mission in Haiti under its current mandate, for activities undertaken by the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti.
The draft is sponsored by: Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.
International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti: report of the Fifth Committee
According to the report (document A/54/665), the Fifth Committee at its forty-fourth and forty-sixth meetings, on 9 and 13 December 1999, pursuant to rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, considered the statement by the Secretary-General (A/C.5/54/38) of the programme budget implications of draft resolution (A/54/L.36) and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/54/659). At its forty-sixth meeting on 13 December, the Committee adopted a draft resolution proposed orally by the Chairman.
Question of East Timor: background
The United Nations General Assembly placed East Timor on the international agenda in 1960, when it added the territory to its list of Non- Self-Governing Territories. At that time, East Timor was administered by Portugal. Fourteen years later, in 1974, Portugal sought to establish a provisional government and a popular assembly which would determine the status of the Territory. Civil war broke out between those who favoured independence and those who advocated integration with Indonesia. Unable to control the situation, Portugal withdrew. Indonesia then intervened militarily and later integrated East Timor as its twenty-seventh province. The United Nations never recognized this integration, and both the Security Council and the General Assembly called for Indonesia's withdrawal.
In June 1998, Indonesia proposed a limited autonomy for East Timor within Indonesia. In light of this proposal, the talks made rapid progress and resulted in a set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal, signed in New York on 5 May 1999. The two Governments entrusted the Secretary-General with organizing and conducting a "popular consultation" in order to ascertain whether the East Timorese people accepted or rejected a special autonomy for East Timor within Indonesia. To carry out the consultation, the Security Council established the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) on 11 June 1999. The 5 May agreements stipulated that, after the vote, UNAMET would oversee a transition period pending implementation of the decision of the East Timorese people.
On voting day, 30 August 1999, some 98 per cent of registered voters went to the polls, deciding by a margin of 94,388 (21.5 per cent) to 344,580 (78.5 per cent) to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence. Following the announcement of the result, pro-integration militias launched a campaign of violence, looting and arson throughout the entire territory. Many East Timorese were killed and as many as 500,000 were displaced from their homes, about half leaving the territory, in some cases under threat of force.
Following the outbreak of violence, the Indonesian armed forces and police began a drawdown from the territory, eventually leaving completely. Indonesian administrative officials also left. On 28 September, Indonesia and Portugal, at a meeting with the United Nations, reiterated their agreement for the transfer of authority in East Timor to the United Nations. They also agreed that ad hoc measures were required to fill the gap created by the early departure of the Indonesian civil authorities. UNAMET re-established its headquarters in Dili on 28 September, and immediately began efforts to restore the mission's logistical capacity and redeploy UNAMET personnel as conditions allowed.
On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognized the result of the consultation. Shortly thereafter, on 25 October, the United Nations Security Council established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) as an integrated, multidimensional peacekeeping operation fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence.
Report of the Secretary-General
The report of the Secretary-General (document A/54/654) states that in 1982 the then Secretary-General was asked by the Assembly to initiate consultations with all parties, with a view to exploring avenues for achieving a comprehensive settlement of the problem with regard to East Timor. Over the past 17 years three Secretary-Generals -- including himself -- have sought to find a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor.
The report goes on to detail: negotiations leading to the 5 May agreements; the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET); the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission; security concerns; delays to the operational phases of the consultation; registration; the campaign period; polling; post consultation violence; the establishment of the multinational forces; and the establishment of the United Nations Transitional Mission in East Timor.
In his observations the Secretary-General says the successful culmination of the tripartite negotiations has led to the settlement of the question of the future status of East Timor. It was a matter of outrage and regret that the consultation process was marred by widespread violence, wanton destruction and massive displacement of the population, organized and perpetrated by elements that opposed East Timor's independence. He congratulated the East Timorese for the new page they have turned in their history and for the perseverance and courage they have shown, particularly during the intimidation and violence that characterized the decisive final stages of the process. Without their determination, the successful conclusion of this process would not have been possible. The United Nations will do its utmost to justify their trust, with respect to all aspects of the work which lies ahead during the transition of East Timor to independence.
By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by Indonesia and Portugal (document A/54/L.73), the Assembly would welcome the successful conduct of the popular consultation of the East Timorese people on 30 August and would take note of its outcome, which began a process of transition under the authority of the United Nations towards independence. It would also welcome the decisions of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly on 19 October concerning East Timor in accordance with article 6 of the agreement of 5 May (by which Indonesia formally recognized the result of the popular consultation). The Assembly would also decide to conclude its consideration of the question of East Timor, and to include in the provisional agenda of the fifty-fifth session a new item entitled "the situation in East Timor during its transition to independence".
Observer Status for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in the Assembly
According to a 47-Power draft on observer status for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in the General Assembly (document A/54/L.7/Rev.2) the Assembly would decide to invite the IUCN to participate in its sessions of work in that capacity. By other terms, it would also decide that, in the future, any request by an organization for grant of observer status would be considered in plenary session after it had been considered by the Sixth Committee. Further, it would request the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures to make all States Members of the General Committee and Assembly aware of the criteria and procedures whenever a request is made by an organization seeking observer status in the Assembly.
Action on Drafts
Draft resolution A/54/L.58, on emergency assistance for Afghanistan, was adopted without a vote, and the following countries added their names as co- sponsors: Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Samoa, Seychelles, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uruguay.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/54/L.47/Rev.1, on the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin, without a vote.
Albania, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burundi, Colombia, Croatia, Romania and Ukraine had joined as co-sponsors of the draft.
NACERDINE SAI (Algeria) said his country had withdrawn from the list of co-sponsors of the draft.
Right of Reply
ELIAS GOUNARIS (Greece) expressed appreciation for the Assembly’s support of the resolution and requested their further efforts to promote its implementation.
Introduction of Draft
In introducing the draft on assistance in mine action on behalf of the European Union, MARJATTA RASI (Finland) said the resolution again emphasized the important role of the United Nations in the effective coordination of mine action activities, as well as the role of the United Nations Mine Action Service as the focal point within the Organization’s system. The important developments in mine action in 1999 were also reflected in the draft resolution.
Since publication of the draft resolution, she said, Angola, Colombia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand, and Senegal had asked to be co-sponsors.
In order to make the text of the resolution consistent with the version finalized in negotiations and submitted to the Secretariat, she made the following oral amendments:
In preambular paragraph one, the title of the resolution should be cited. On the second line, after "18 December 1998", the words "on assistance in mine clearance" should be added. On the third line, after the words "17 November 1998", the words "on assistance in mine action" should be added. In preambular paragraph ten, line 6, the word "and" should be added after the comma. In the last line, the word "for" should be added after the word "and". In operative paragraph 2, line 4, the word "and" should be added after the comma, and the word "those" should be replaced by "these". At the end of operative paragraph 9, the following words should be added: "in Annex ll to this report on this agenda item in 1998". In operative paragraph 19, line 4, the words "progress made" should be deleted.
She added that negotiations on the draft had been lengthy, and she hoped that the result would lead to further enhancement of international cooperation in the field of mine action.
Further action on Drafts
Introducing the text on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel (document A/54/L.70), the Under Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, Jin Yongian, said that as it stood, paragraph 14 did not at this stage give rise to programme budget implications. The Secretary-General would review the United Nations security arrangements and revert to the Assembly as appropriate.
Action on Draft
The draft, as orally amended, was then adopted without a vote.
Introduction of draft on emergency assistance to the Sudan
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), introducing the draft on behalf of the African States, said he had the honour of requesting sustained assistance for the Sudan. The international community must actively continue its appreciated assistance to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of that country. The draft before the Assembly had been consulted on and agreed to by the community of donor countries and others. It was an extension of a similar text adopted in December last year with some updates.
Action on Draft
The Assembly then adopted the resolution (document A/54/L.72/ Rev. 1) without a vote.
Explanation of Vote after the vote
JENNIFER SAVAGE (United States) said her country had joined the consensus in the Assembly on humanitarian assistance to the Sudan despite the text's serious shortcomings and inaccuracies. It was regrettable that this year's resolution did not accurately reflect the true situation facing both the victims of war and the providers of life-saving relief. This year's humanitarian resolution did not even begin to describe the situation facing southern Sudanese. It did not describe the Government's periodic imposition of relief flight bans to areas affected by large-scale population displacements. At the same time, those flight bans on United Nations operations had denied critical relief to thousands who had lost their homes. For that reason, she said, the United States supported humanitarian relief operations outside the United Nations umbrella.
The resolution also failed to describe the Sudanese Government's continued bombardment of civilian population centres and humanitarian relief operations, including the bombing of clearly marked hospitals and schools. Such attacks transgressed international humanitarian law. The text did not mention the horrible practice of slavery, supported by Government-funded militias, that continued along the border areas between North and South Sudan. While her country recognized that opposition forces had also been accused of diverting relief supplies and impeding the efforts of humanitarian workers, the main impediment to effective relief operations had been the Sudanese Government.
She said the United States was committed to a single unified peace process under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Her country had consistently been the largest donor in the Sudanese relief effort. In 1999 it committed over $95 million to assistance programmes in that country, in both Government, and rebel-controlled areas. Nearly $1 billion had been contributed in relief to Sudan since the establishment of Operation Lifeline Sudan in 1989. Despite multiple peace initiatives over the years, it seemed that a lasting and just peace in Sudan was far away. The situation was precarious, despite improvements in many areas. This was not the time for the international community to reduce its support for assistance programmes in Sudan, nor was it time to lessen the resolve to end the terrible war.
JOHN VON KAUFMANN (Canada) said his delegation had supported the resolution as a demonstration of his country's continuing support for the people of the Sudan. However, he had reservations on some of the language of the text and its potential effects on a coordinated international effort to deliver humanitarian assistance to all affected populations in the Sudan. Despite an ongoing peace process, violations of humanitarian and human rights law continued to be perpetrated by both sides in the conflict, with especially negative effects on the civilian population. He added that the humanitarian situation in the country had not sufficiently changed to merit the decision to biennialize the resolution -- a move Canada opposed.
He expressed support for the decisions taken by the Government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement to commit themselves afresh to the peace process, and he urged the parties to establish a general and comprehensive ceasefire with an effective monitoring mechanism. He welcomed the decision to extend the ceasefire for a further three months, and urged all parties to refrain from imposing restrictive measures, including the flight bans that compromised the ability of humanitarian agencies to provide needed assistance.
MUBARAK HUSSEIN RAHMTALLA (Sudan) expressed gratitude to all partners from the donor community who had agreed to support the resolution. However, it was adopted for its humanitarian nature. The accusations heard had already been addressed in a different context and in other forums, and were motivated by political considerations. The Sudan was a willing participant in Operation Lifeline, considered a model never before attempted in any country. The Sudanese Government had agreed to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the movement that now opposed it.
Introduction of Draft
In introducing the draft resolution on the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (document A/54/L.36), JULIAN ROBERT HUNTE (Saint Lucia) acknowledged that the mission had decisively contributed to a qualitative change in the human rights situation, the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms, and the professionalization of the security forces in Haiti. He said that Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Ireland and Portugal had joined the co-sponsors of the draft.
Despite the remarkable progress achieved by Haitian national institutions in the field of human rights, he continued, there was still considerable necessity for continued international support in that regard. There were still shortcomings and weaknesses in the judicial system, which had had a negative impact on a National Police which was not sufficiently equipped in techniques and resources, and which had not yet reached institutional maturity. However, it had also been recognized that since the creation of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) the Haitian National Police had made significant progress in the fulfillment of its responsibilities.
He said that Haitian President René Préval had praised the United Nations role in Haiti and had asked for continued assistance from the international community. He therefore called on the General Assembly to give favorable consideration to the draft.
PIERRE LELONG (Haiti) said the partnership between the Haitian people and the international community in the area of human rights had changed, and was entering a crucial stage. Less than a month ago, the Security Council had extended the mandate of the United Nations Civilian Police Mission until 15 March 2000. The Mission had done the job entrusted to it. All those involved in the Haitian struggle were now worried about how to establish reliable mechanisms to maintain democracy and human rights in Haiti when the two main missions came to an end.
The partnership between the international community and Haiti must be strengthened, he continued. He hoped the preparation of a long-term assistance programme for Haiti, which had been called for in an Economic and Social Council resolution, was acted on. The President of Haiti, René Préval, had also expressed the hope that it would be possible to establish an institutional support system in his country, that was neither uniformed nor armed. The draft now before the Assembly met all concerns, and he urged its unanimous adoption.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that elections for a new Haitian Parliament were welcome. He expected that they would be held in accordance with international requirements, and that the Haitian people would be encouraged to exercise their right to vote. To ensure broad participation, voters must be convinced that by exercising their voting rights they would be part of an important step forward in the development of a democratic and stable government. The fledging Haitian police force was expected to do its best to contain unrest and reduce tension, but the main responsibility for easing the tension rested firmly in the hands of Haiti’s political leaders.
His Government had been one of the contributors to a consultation process aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Haitian leadership and State institutions to deal with the development challenges facing the country. So far, five meetings had been held as part of the consultation process, the two most recent in Haiti itself. The process should result in the creation of a broad coalition which would conduct discussions on Haiti’s political, economic and social future.
It was of the outmost importance that the international community assist in setting up a mechanism within the United Nations for the continuation of the two work of the missions (MIPONUH and MICIVIH), even though the ultimate responsibility for strengthening the police force lay with the Government of Haiti. The main responsibility for consolidating democracy and ensuring respect for human rights in the country likewise rested with the people and Government of Haiti.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said he was prepared to make a tangible contribution to the International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICAH). That mission was a tailor-made solution, prepared by the Friends of Haiti, the Secretariat and the Haitians themselves, to adapt international assistance to the need for consolidation of the progress achieved by MICIVIH and MIPONUH. He said that MICAH would make it possible to complete the transition, already under way, from a military peacekeeping presence, to a civilian police presence and eventually towards a long-term cooperation programme.
MICAH was first and foremost a tool the international community was offering the Haitians to help tackle the many challenges facing them. The first such challenge would be to hold credible legislative and local elections in order to reestablish Parliament. MICAH would also provide Haiti with broader, better targeted and better coordinated support. The mission would bring together a hundred or so international experts, working as technical advisers to strengthen Haiti’s institutions and assist in its democratization through activities on three fronts -- the justice system, the police, and human rights.
MICAH was a new type of mission. Its success would depend largely on its preparedness -- hence the importance of beginning work on the mission as soon as the Assembly adopted the enabling resolution. The choice of the experts selected for the new mission would be a key to its success. All due care and creativity must be shown in recruiting those people. Moreover, MICAH should not represent an ad hoc intervention, but must constitute a further step on the path Haiti had chosen. It must be an instrument that would consolidate past gains and put in place the necessary elements for long-term support. Canada was urging the Secretary-General to ensure that the process of developing a long-term strategy for Haiti should involve all actors, at both the multilateral level and the bilateral level.
LUIS MOLINA CUADRA (Nicaragua), speaking on behalf of the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, expressed satisfaction that despite a difficult situation and multiple challenges, Haiti had made great strides in its efforts to democratize. That transition could not be easy, and the achievements, however small they might appear, were valuable and significant. Some of those had been in human rights, including the rights of women, and in civil rights.
A number of those achievements had potential as factors that could underpin the democratization process, he continued. The international community must continue providing assistance in the future, so that Haitians could live in peace and mutual tolerance. He noted that holding general elections might also be another positive factor in promoting democracy and strengthening human rights in Haiti. The international community should also contribute by ensuring a positive outcome of that event. Democracy in Haiti should be an irreversible step for all its citizens.
MARJATTA RASI (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said a lasting solution to the crisis in Haiti would only be possible through elections conducted in a free, honest and open atmosphere. The importance of the elections scheduled in March and April of next year could not be overestimated, and it was therefore imperative that everything possible should be done to ensure that they were organized in a democratic, transparent and orderly manner, and that all possible efforts be made to guarantee the highest possible participation. The maintenance of security during and after the elections was of major importance.
The mandates of the United Nations missions in Haiti would soon expire, but their tasks could not yet be completed. Political instability and institutional frailty prevailed, the security situation was deteriorating, there was an upsurge of crime and political violence. The institutional consolidation of the new police force had been hampered by lack of resources and equipment, organizational weaknesses and efforts to gain political control of the force. It was thus crucial that the United Nations presence be maintained in Haiti.
The proposed International Civilian Mission for Support in Haiti (MICAH) would continue to consolidate the results achieved, while allowing a coordinated approach to improving the climate of respect for democracy, good governance and human rights. The European Union fully supported the focus of the new mission with its three main pillars -- justice, human rights and the police.
The Union also reaffirmed the principle that special political missions should be financed primarily from the regular budget, and that MICAH, taking into account its technical cooperation component, could not in any way be viewed as a precedent.
ANA MARIA RAMIREZ (Argentina) said the present draft resolution was the last step in the complex and lengthy process of resolving a conflict. The mandates of MIPONUH and MICIVIH were designed for peacekeeping. Now the international community must pursue the consolidation of peace, via democracy and good governance. All the main bodies involved in Haiti had carried out their duties to the full, and the joint activities of the United Nations missions had gone a long way towards strengthening Haitian institutions.
Argentina was committed to maintaining and supporting those democratic institutions by providing police and military personnel.
M. YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said he was pleased at the adoption of the resolution. France was particularly satisfied at the active involvement of the Haitian authorities in negotiations on the text. Police, justice and human rights would help democracy to take root in Haiti; moreover, France would continue to support the work of the United Nations in the country. However, it would have preferred the Mission to be fully financed from the regular budget rather than depending on the goodwill of others.
CARLOS BIVERO (Venezuela) said he welcomed the transition in Haiti; particular mention needed to be made of the efforts of Haitian nationals and its society as a whole. The resolution deserved the full support of the Assembly.
Action on Draft
The Assembly adopted the draft on the situation in Haiti (document A/54/L.36) without a vote.
Introduction of Draft
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia), introducing the draft on the question of East Timor (document A/54/L.73), said that notwithstanding formidable obstacles, his country had been steadfast in its commitment to a just comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of that Territory. His Government had abided by its responsibility and commitment to see that the choice taken by the East Timorese was respected and that their separation from Indonesia was carried out in an orderly, peaceful and dignified manner. Today, East Timor had begun a process of transition, under United Nations auspices towards eventual independence.
It was therefore both timely and appropriate for the Assembly to close consideration on the question and include in the provisional agenda of its next session a new item, entitled "the situation in East Timor during its transition to independence". He recommended the draft for adoption by consensus.
Introducing the draft on East Timor (document A/54/L.73), ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) said it represented a landmark not only for East Timor but also for the United Nations. For the East Timorese because they had finally been able to fulfil their legitimate right to self-determination and for the Organization because it had been able to achieve a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question.
He said his country and Indonesia could only express their satisfaction with the draft resolution because it had emerged from the joint efforts of their two countries in close consultation with the Secretariat. He called on the international community to create the right conditions for the reconstruction and transition to independence of East Timor and to ensure that it was a success story.
The Assembly adopted the resolution without a vote, thus concluding its consideration of East Timor.
Statements and Action on IUCN
ALEMAN BIVERO (Ecuador), introducing the draft on the IUCN (document A/54/L.7/Rev.2), stated that the legal norms governing the work of that organization had been adopted over time; it was unique in its composition. Its 75 member States, drawn from all the continents, perceived the Union as an inter-governmental body. It could contribute to the work of the Organization by virtue of its experience in issues relevant to peace, the world order and the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources. For example, it had drafted a code of conduct for transnational parks, and contributed to the preparation of Chapter 12 in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. It had been a pioneer in developing and applying the concept of sustainable development through projects and policies in some 130 States. The resolution was not in the best possible form, but would achieve the desired aim. He announced that Japan and Luxembourg had joined as sponsors.
ANNA-MAIJA KORPI (Finland) speaking on behalf of the European Union and its associated States, said IUCN was one of the world’s oldest international organizations dedicated to conservation. Its work supported and complemented the work done under the auspices of the United Nations to preserve the integrity and diversity of nature through the equitable and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources. It had served as one of the main technical advisors to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Convention on Biodiversity. It had considerable experience and expertise in environmental education. Giving it observer status would contribute greatly to the work of the Organization.
The Assembly adopted the draft on observer status for the IUCN (document A/54/L.7/Rev.2) without a vote.
Ms. BERGERON expressed the United States’ unwavering support for the IUCN. However, she said, her country had withdrawn its sponsorship of the resolution, as it did not agree with certain sections, which should have been contained in another document.
BHAGWAT-SINGH, represntative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), thanked the Assembly for granting his organization observer status. He said that 50 years ago, the idea of sustainable development had existed but had not yet found a voice in the policy of international organizations. France and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), along with other States and government ministries and various other bodies, had established what was today the IUCN. His organization was privileged to provide its expert analysis and research on items before the current session of the Assembly and was honoured and pleased to accept the invitation to become an observer.