06/12/2000
Press Release
GA/9843



Fifty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

82nd Meeting (AM)


ASSEMBLY URGES CONTINUED EFFORTS TO MINIMIZE EFFECTS OF LANDMINES,


SUPPORT FOR CLEARANCE PROGRAMMES AND RELIEF FOR VICTIMS


Some Delegates Say Compensation Issue Needs Emphasis;

Appointments Made to United Nations Administrative, Financial Bodies


The General Assembly met this morning to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and make other appointments, to take action on a draft resolution regarding assistance in mine action, and to consider the second report of the Credentials Committee.


Appointments to Fill Vacancies


Following the recommendation of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in its report (document A/55/652), the Assembly appointed these five members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2001:  Andrzej T. Abraszewski (Poland) from the regional group of Eastern European States;  Manlan Narcisse Ahounou (Côte d'Ivoire) and C.S.M. Mselle (United Republic of Tanzania) from the African States;  Filipe Mabilangan (Philippines) from the Asian States;  and E. Besley Maycock (Barbados) from the Latin American and Caribbean States.


The Assembly further appointed, following the Fifth Committee's recommendation contained in its report A/55/424/Add.1, the following persons as members of the Committee on Contributions for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2001:  Petru Dumitriu (Romania), Chinmaya R. Gharekahn (India), Ihor V. Humenny (Ukraine), Gebhard Benjamin Kandanga (Namibia), David A .Leis (United States) and Kazuo Watanabe (Japan).  In paragraph 6 of the same report, the Fifth Committee also recommended that the General Assembly appoint Henry S. Fox (Australia) as a member of the Committee on Contributions for a term of office beginning today (6 December) and ending on 31 December 2001.


Also on the Fifth Committee's recommendation (contained in document A/55/653), the Assembly appointed the Court of Audit of France as a member of the Board of Auditors for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 July 2001.


On the recommendation of the Fifth Committee in its report A/55/654, the Assembly confirmed the appointment by the Secretary-General of three persons as members of the Investment Committee for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2001:  Ahmad Abdullatif (Saudi Arabia), Fernando Chico Pardo (Mexico) and J.Y. Pillay (Singapore).


The Assembly also appointed as members of the United Nations Administrative tribunal for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2001:  Omer Yousif Bireedo (Sudan), Spyridon Flogaitis (Greece) and Brigitte Stern (France).  This was on the Fifth Committee's recommendations as contained in its report A/55/656.


Finally, also on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee (in document A/55/656), the Assembly appointed Ernest Rusita (Uganda), El Hassane Zahid (Morocco), Asda Jayanama (Thailand), C.M. Shafi Sami (Bangladesh) and Alexei L. Fedotov (Russian Federation) as members of the International Civil Service Commission for a four-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2001.


All the appointments were decided upon without a vote.


The President of the General Assembly, Harri Holkeri, announced his decision to appoint Penny Wensley of Australia and Ibra Deguene Ka of Senegal as the two facilitators of the preparatory process of the special session on HIV/AIDS.


Assistance in Mine Action


A draft resolution on assistance in mine action (document A/55/L.44/Rev.2 plus Corr.1), introduced by Didier Le Bret (France), on behalf of the European Union and the co-sponsors of the draft, was adopted without a vote.


By its terms, the Assembly called for the continuation of United Nations efforts 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, or an impediment to social and economic development efforts.  It emphasized the importance of developing national mine-action capacities, and urged all Member States to assist mine-affected countries in the establishment and development of national capacities in mine clearance, mine awareness and assistance to victims.


The Assembly also called upon Member States, especially those with the capacity to do so, to provide the necessary information and technical, financial and material assistance, to locate, remove, destroy or otherwise render ineffective minefields, mines, booby traps and other devices as soon as possible, in accordance with international law.


By the resolution, the Assembly encouraged governments, relevant United Nations bodies and other donors to take further action to promote gender- and age-appropriate mine-awareness programmes, victim assistance and child-centred rehabilitation, thereby reducing the number of child victims.


The draft was sponsored by Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Zambia.


(For background information on the issue, see Press Release GA/9833 of 28 November.)


Explanation of Vote


GUMA AMAR (Libya) said his delegation had joined the consensus, but it did not accept all contents of the resolution.  The first operative paragraph, which welcomed the report on activities of United Nations assistance in mine action, concentrated only on mines recently planted, not previous ones such as those suffered by Libya.  During the Second World War, millions of mines had been planted in Libya and they continued to kill people and they hampered efforts to combat desertification.  The report did not deal with the countries responsible for planting such mines, or the issue of compensation.  He was still concerned over this trend and hoped the Secretary-General would avoid it in the future.  Mines caused many tragedies, and it was incumbent on the international community to combat such problems. 


ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) said the subject was important to Egypt because it had been seriously affected by land mines.  There were 23 million mines on Egyptian territory, hampering development.  On the other hand, land mines continued to constitute legitimate means of defence, particularly for countries with expansive borders, and that was why his country had not joined the Ottawa Convention.  He said his delegation had presented amendments, in document A/55/L.51, in an attempt to reaffirm all the dimensions concerning mine problems.  However, in keeping with the humanitarian objective of the draft and not to hamper the consensus, Egypt had withdrawn the amendments, including those to preambular paragraphs concerning the legitimacy of use of land mines for purposes of defence of countries.  Those landmines constituted an important element of security for defending expansive Egyptian borders against smuggling and terrorism, and his delegation wished those matters had been included in the draft resolution.


RODOLFO ELISEO BENITEZ VERSON (Cuba) joining the consensus on the draft, said that in previous years the resolution centred on demining.  However, its contents had gradually been increased to include assistance in mine action.  This had made the annual consultations on the issue increasingly intense.  While today’s text reflected a delicate balance, the delegation of Cuba would have preferred it to explicitly reflect national security concerns vis-à-vis anti-personnel mines.  For many countries, particularly developing countries, mines were the only means to protect their borders.  Cuba had joined the consensus because of the irresponsible use of mines, which led to the indiscriminate suffering of innocent civilians. 


Report of the Credentials Committee


The Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution by which it approved the second report of the Credentials Committee (document A/55/537/Add.1).


* *** *