United Nations

A/51/633


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

30 October 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/633
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 21


          STRENGTHENING OF THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AND DISASTER
          RELIEF ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS, INCLUDING SPECIAL
                              ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

         Letter dated 29 October 1996 from the Permanent Representative of
         Belarus to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General


     I have the honour to transmit herewith a letter addressed to you
by His Excellency Mr. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, President of the Republic
of Belarus (annex I), and a memorandum issued by the Government of
Belarus concerning further coordinated activities of the international
community on Chernobyl and the possible implementation under United
Nations auspices of the proposals by Belarus regarding international
cooperation in relation to Chernobyl (annex II).

     I should be grateful if you would have the text of this letter and
its annexes circulated as a document of the General Assembly under
agenda item 21.


                                               (Signed)  Alyaksandr SYCHOU    
                                                     Permanent Representative 
                                                    of the Republic of Belarus
                                                       to the United Nations  


                                    ANNEX I

                                                          [Original:  Russian]

        Letter dated 24 October 1996 from the President of the Republic
                 of Belarus addressed to the Secretary-General


     The world has never before experienced an environmental
catastrophe as vast as the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant.  For over 10 years, Belarus has been experiencing the
consequences of a national ecological disaster.  As you are aware, 70
per cent of the fallout from Chernobyl fell in Belarus, and the
average radiation burden on the population is the highest in the
world.  The incidence of thyroid cancer has increased several
hundredfold, and the birth rate has fallen by 40 per cent.  The number
of victims is now in the thousands.  People continue to suffer from
the consequences of the disaster.  The Government of Belarus has been
compelled to allocate up to one quarter of the national revenue to
resolving the post-Chernobyl problems.

     The Government of Belarus attaches vital importance to United
Nations activities to mobilize international assistance and promote
the special post-Chernobyl interests of Belarus, the most affected
State with the least financial resources.  We are grateful for the
efforts that have been made and we thank you and the entire staff of
the United Nations and its specialized agencies for their contribution
to the noble cause of assisting the victims of Chernobyl.

     We are also pleased that the General Assembly at its fiftieth
session adopted a resolution that placed the Chernobyl problem on the
agenda of the Assembly's fifty-second session in 1997.  We are
convinced that the Assembly should continue to consider this question
in subsequent years.

     Bearing in mind the special nature of the consequences of the
Chernobyl disaster for Belarus, I should like to draw your attention
to the principal Belarusian strategies for developing long-term
international cooperation in the second post-Chernobyl decade.

     On the whole, the Government of Belarus commends the efforts of
the organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations
system to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the
disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.  At the same time, it
is somewhat disappointed at the meagre response of individual
intergovernmental organizations to the Secretary-General's appeal to
provide assistance to projects to minimize the tragic consequences of
the disaster.

     We believe that such a response is an indication of a lack of
sufficient coordination and complementarity in the efforts of the
United Nations Secretariat and organizations and agencies of the
United Nations system.  Over the past five years, there have been five
United Nations Coordinators for International Cooperation on
Chernobyl.  The Chernobyl secretariat was completely reorganized four
times.  In our opinion, such instability in staffing cannot be
explained only by efforts to reform the United Nations Secretariat.

     We are deeply convinced that the main problem continues to be that
of financing the list of priority Chernobyl programmes and projects
reviewed by the United Nations in 1995.  We are well aware of the
Organization's critical financial situation and we are not counting on
further resources from its budget.  In this regard, I should like to
remind you that, in November 1995, the Quadripartite Committee for
Coordination on Chernobyl entrusted the Department of Humanitarian
Affairs with the task of developing a strategy for appealing to
intergovernmental financial institutions and donor countries to
finance Chernobyl-related projects.

     As you know, the economy of Belarus is gradually recovering from
the damage caused by the Chernobyl disaster, and this work continues
to be a priority in the Government's socio-economic and scientific and
technological programmes.  However, Belarus is not in a position to
solve the whole range of problems on its own.  Its need for resources
to overcome the consequences of the disaster is many times greater
than its economic and technological capacities.  Our country is in
dire need of international financial and technical assistance to
support the long-term medical programmes being carried out with the
participation of the World Health Organization (WHO), which will have
the greatest effect for the rehabilitation and sustainable development
of the affected districts.

     Belarus would like to see more results in the work of the
mechanism for coordinating United Nations Chernobyl-related
activities.  We propose that, at its scheduled November 1996 meeting,
the Quadripartite Committee for Coordination on Chernobyl consider a
strategy for international cooperation in the second post-Chernobyl
decade and approve a programme of action by the United Nations and
intergovernmental institutions to mobilize resources for the
implementation of international Chernobyl projects.  The phases and
modalities for the purpose of advancing medical and environmental
projects and programmes should be specified with a view to ensuring
the sustainable economic and social development of Belarus, a country
with an economy in transition, which finds itself in critical
circumstances as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

     I should like to mention the following priority areas for
international post-Chernobyl cooperation with Belarus:

     -   Concentration of the humanitarian efforts of the United
         Nations and other international and regional organizations on
         providing medical and other free assistance to the most
         affected groups of the population:  children, "liquidators"
         and  inhabitants of evacuated districts;

     -   Consolidation in the United Nations and other
         intergovernmental organizations of a long-term policy
         approach to solving post-Chernobyl problems;

     -   Promotion of bilateral cooperation on Chernobyl between
         Belarus and donor countries as an additional basis for
         international research and practical projects;

     -   Dissemination of balanced and objective information both
         among the affected population and throughout the world.

     The Government of Belarus believes that the implementation of the
aforementioned proposals will contribute to an appropriate division of
labour among the organizations and agencies of the United Nations
system and the Organization's Secretariat.

     I should like to take this opportunity to invite you to
participate in the opening and work of the International (regional)
Conference on the Sustainable Development of the Economies in
Transition, which will be held in Minsk from 23 to 25 April 1997.


                                               (Signed)  Alyaksandr LUKASHENKA


                                   ANNEX II

                                                          [Original:  Russian]

          Memorandum on the possible implementation under United Nations
          auspices of the proposals by Belarus regarding international
                     cooperation in relation to Chernobyl


     The Government of Belarus has more than once expressed its deep
concern at the continuing impact of the consequences of the Chernobyl
disaster on the life and health of people.

     The world has never before experienced such a vast environmental
catastrophe.  The number of victims is now in the thousands, and
people continue to suffer.  The Government of Belarus has been
compelled to allocate up to one quarter of the national revenue to
resolving the post-Chernobyl problems.  The average radiation burden
on the population is the highest in the world.  The incidence of
thyroid cancer has increased several hundredfold, and the birth rate
has fallen by 40 per cent.

     The economy of Belarus is gradually recovering from the damage
caused by Chernobyl, and this work continues to be a priority in the
Government's socio-economic and scientific and technological
programmes.  However, Belarus is not in a position to solve the whole
range of problems on its own.  Its need for resources to overcome the
consequences of the disaster is many times greater than its economic
and technological capacity.

     The problem of Chernobyl continues to be a humanitarian tragedy on
an international scale, and it can be solved only with the help of
purposive and consistent international action.

     The Government of Belarus attaches vital importance to United
Nations activities to mobilize international assistance and promote
the special post-Chernobyl interests of Belarus, the most affected
State with the least financial resources.  Belarus is grateful for the
efforts that have been made, and thanks the United Nations and its
specialized agencies for their contribution to the noble cause of
assisting the victims of Chernobyl.

     The General Assembly, the United Nations Secretariat, the
intergovernmental and inter-agency mechanisms for the coordination of
international cooperation, and also the activities of the funds,
programmes, organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations
system, have made and are continuing to make an important contribution
to the initiation of broad and comprehensive study in order to
mitigate and minimize the consequences of the disaster at the
Chernobyl nuclear power station, to the prevention of further nuclear
accidents and to enhancing the readiness of the international
community to react to accidents with radiological consequences.

     The Government of Belarus is deeply convinced that the main
problem continues to be that of financing the list of priority
Chernobyl programmes and projects reviewed by the United Nations in
1995.  The resources of the United Nations Trust Fund for Chernobyl
have been exhausted.  Without additional assistance from the
international community, the efforts of the United Nations in this
field would have to be halted precisely at a time when the accuracy of
the apprehensions expressed earlier about the long-time nature of the
disaster's ruinous consequences has started to be confirmed.

     Belarus is well aware of the critical financial situation of the
United Nations, and is not counting on further resources from its
budget.  In this regard, the Government of Belarus would like to refer
to the intention previously expressed by the United Nations
Secretariat of reviewing and approving at a forthcoming meeting of the
Quadripartite Committee for Coordination on Chernobyl the phases and
modalities of action by the United Nations to encourage donors to
extend generous and tangible assistance for the purpose of advancing
medical and environmental projects and programmes capable of reviving
the sustainable development of the three countries that suffered most
as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

     In view of the scale of the problems and the insufficient response
from international donors, there is a need for additional efforts to
draw the attention of the world community to the long-term nature of
the consequences of Chernobyl.  Belarus considers it necessary to
review at the next meeting of the Quadripartite Committee for
Coordination on Chernobyl a strategy for international cooperation in
the second post-Chernobyl decade, and to approve a programme of action
by the United Nations and intergovernmental institutions to mobilize
resources for the implementation of international Chernobyl projects.

     Belarus wishes to identify the following as priority areas for
post-Chernobyl international cooperation:

     -   Concentration of the humanitarian efforts of the United
         Nations and other international and regional organizations on
         providing medical and other free assistance to the most
         effected groups of the population - children, liquidators,
         and the inhabitants of the evacuated districts;

     -   Consolidation in the United Nations and other
         intergovernmental organizations of a long-term policy
         approach to solving post-Chernobyl problems;

     -   Promotion of bilateral cooperation on Chernobyl between
         Belarus and donor countries as an additional basis for
         international research and practical projects;

     -   Dissemination of balanced and objective information both
         among the affected population and throughout the world.

     Belarus is unfortunately compelled to note that for various
reasons of an economic and organizational nature, over the course of
the 10 years since the Chernobyl disaster the world has not yet been
able to create an effective system for studying all of its
consequences.  In this connection, in April 1996 in the course of the
Vienna International Conference "One Year After Chernobyl:  Summing Up
the Consequences of the Accident", Belarus put forward the idea of
establishing an "international inter-State centre on the problems of
Chernobyl".

     Belarus welcomes the contribution of the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to the
establishment on the basis of the Chernobyl nuclear power station of
an international scientific and technical research centre under IAEA
auspices in Ukraine and an international centre for reducing the
medical consequences of Chernobyl under WHO auspices in Obninsk
(Russian Federation), attaches great importance to their experience
and regards the activities of the centres as a significant step
towards expanding the capabilities of the international community for
studying, mitigating and minimizing the consequences of such
accidents.

     In putting forward the proposal for the establishment and
operation of the centre, Belarus takes into account the existence of
interest among foreign countries and international intergovernmental
and non-governmental organizations, especially international
scientific associations and other professional non-governmental
organizations, and also recognizes the need to prevent duplication of
activity among the existing long-term international scientific
programmes and international centres.

     The Polessk State Radiation and Environmental Reserve, located in
Belarus on territory directly adjacent to the Chernobyl nuclear power
station, possesses appropriate infrastructure, including highly
qualified scientists and experts, and has unique conditions and
research subjects, thus making it possible to develop practical
approaches and establish effective methods of overcoming the
consequences of nuclear disasters and ensuring environmental
rehabilitation of territories polluted by radionuclides.

     The scientific topics of the Reserve's activities include:

     Conduct of radio-environmental monitoring of the territories
directly adjacent to the Chernobyl nuclear power station;

     Determination of the prospects for forestry activities on soils
polluted by radionuclides;

     Study of the migration of radionuclides in forest and aquatic
ecosystems;

     Forecasting the dynamics of radioactive pollution of agricultural
land.

     An important point relating to the conduct of reliable medical
investigations is the availability in Belarus of:

     Pre-Chernobyl statistics on thyroid diseases;

     A complete national register of persons who participated in the
post-accident and rehabilitation activities in the territory adjacent
to the Chernobyl nuclear power station;

     A national post-Chernobyl programme for the study and prevention
of genetic consequences.

     The cost of establishing and operating the centre could be borne
in part by the countries that suffered most from Chernobyl.  Part of
these expenditures could be covered out of the accumulated and
unutilized portion of their contributions in national currency to
IAEA, WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and
also, perhaps, from voluntary contributions by interested
non-governmental donors.

     The expenditures to purchase the necessary equipment could be
reimbursed by interested regional and subregional cooperation
institutes out of the resources available to them.

     The Government of Belarus intends to create highly favourable
conditions for the conduct of multilateral research projects at the
"inter-State scientific centre on the problems of Chernobyl", and
hopes to learn the views of foreign countries and international
organizations regarding the direct areas for joint scientific study,
the organization and financing of activities and the participation of
foreign scientists and experts in the implementation of the projects.

     Belarus welcomes the multilateral initiatives of the leading
industrially developed countries aimed at ensuring the safety of
obsolete nuclear reactors, particularly those of the Chernobyl type. 
At the same time, the Government of Belarus is concerned that the
discussion under way in the world regarding the closing down of the
Chernobyl reactor obscures the issue of eliminating the medical and
environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, the brunt of
which is borne by our country.

     Belarus is convinced that international efforts to strengthen the
nuclear safety regime should be synchronized with additional
preventive measures, so as to exclude the possibility of further
Chernobyls in the future.  This would be fully in line with the
mandate given by General Assembly resolution 50/134 of
20 December 1995, entitled "Strengthening of international cooperation
and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the
consequences of the Chernobyl disaster".

     Belarus considers it desirable that along with investments in
improving nuclear reactor safety, provision should be made for capital
investments aimed at eliminating the consequences of incidents at
nuclear power stations and conducting rehabilitation programmes.

     In view of what has been stated above, Belarus is in favour of the
establishment of an "international fund for elimination of the
consequences of radiological accidents", whose functions would include
accumulating part of the profits of international nuclear engineering
and nuclear power corporations and redistributing these resources for
the above-mentioned purposes.

     In this connection, Belarus attaches great importance to the
experience of such authoritative intergovernmental institutions as the
Global Environment Facility and UNEP in the financing of international
environmental programmes and projects.

     At the same time, the Government of Belarus is compelled to note
that the work of these institutions takes practically no account of
the vital interests of States which have suffered as a result of
nuclear and other technological disasters and accidents and
accordingly need to rehabilitate their environment and restore their
sustainable development.

     The natural potential partners and possible co-founders of the
fund could be, in the first place, the countries and corporations of
the "international nuclear community", and also IAEA and the European
Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

     The Government of Belarus considers that the above proposals are
capable of ensuring an appropriate division of labour between the
institutions of the United Nations system and the Secretariat of the
United Nations, paying due attention to the comparative advantages of
each of them.

     Belarus takes a flexible position with regard to its proposals in
relation to international cooperation on Chernobyl, with a view to
reaching a consensus on their possible implementation under the
auspices of the United Nations, and is also prepared to cooperate in
considering other ideas about how best to organize international
cooperation in the second post-Chernobyl decade.

     Belarus is counting on political support for these proposals from
the United Nations and its agencies, and also from the Governments of
States Members of the United Nations.


                                     ----- 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org