Africa: UN Security Council 1996, 2/3/97

Africa: UN Security Council 1996, 2/3/97

Africa: UN Security Council 1996
Date distributed (ymd): 970203
Document reposted by APIC

Press Release SC/6313 -- 14 January 1997 -- excerpts

Note: the full version of this press release is available on the UN web site (


The Security Council, on 13 December, recommended Kofi Annan to the General Assembly for appointment as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations for a term of office from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2001, the culmination of a year in which the Council faced crises ranging from the Balkans and the Caucasus to the Great Lakes region of Africa ...

Mr. Annan was appointed and sworn in by the Assembly on 17 December. The first sub-Saharan African to become Secretary-General, he is a native of the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence from colonialism, Ghana. He begins his term of office in the year in which Ghana will commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its independence in 1957. ...

Following are regional summaries of Council activity:

Great Lakes Region

As the refugee crisis in eastern Zaire intensified, the Council adopted resolution 1080 (1996) on 15 November, authorizing a Canadian initiative to lead the deployment of a temporary multinational force to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian help to the Rwandan refugees and civilians caught in the fighting between rebel and government forces in Zaire. Shortly after, however, a majority of the Rwandan refugees returned to their country in a massive exodus, preempting the need for the deployment of such a force, and the Council then accepted, in a letter dated 23 December, another Canadian proposal: to terminate the force's mandate effective 31 December, since its raison d'etre had ceased to exist. ...

In an orientation debate on 28 August, speakers condemned the 25 July coup d'etat that deposed President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and returned Major Pierre Buyoya to power in Burundi, and called it an obstacle to the progress that was being made in a regional search for a comprehensive solution to the problems in that country. Speakers at the Council meeting supported the sanctions imposed on Burundi by countries of the Great Lakes region after their 31 July summit at Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. The representative of Burundi, however, said that the United Nations Charter had been violated by the imposition of sanctions, which he described as economic aggression. The new Government had stepped in to prevent the repetition of the Rwandan disaster in Burundi, he stressed.

Two days later, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1072 (1996), which condemned the removal of Burundi's legitimate Government and called on Major Buyoya to restore the previous order and lift the ban on political parties. It demanded that all sides cease hostilities and initiate negotiations towards a political settlement.

The Council closely followed events in Burundi throughout the year seeking restraint, an end to violence and international efforts to prevent genocide. On 5 January, the Council issued a presidential statement condemning those responsible for daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detentions. It called on all sides to respect and implement the 10 September 1994 Convention of Government, which constituted the institutional framework for national reconciliation.

Then, on 29 January, the Council adopted resolution 1040 (1996), in which it declared its readiness to consider banning the supply of arms and related materiel to Burundi and imposed restrictions against leaders who encouraged violence. Later on, it adopted resolution 1049 (1996) on 5 March encouraging the Secretary-General to continue consultations with concerned Member States and the OAU on a contingency planning to support a comprehensive dialogue and for a rapid response to widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the situation in Burundi.

In a report to the Council, the Secretary-General had urged the international community to consider establishing a stand-by multinational intervention force that would be sent to Burundi should large-scale ethnic violence erupt. The representative of Burundi said his country's army would confront any foreign expeditionary force, regardless of its humanitarian intent.

Further, noting the widespread use of weapons in Burundi and various statements calling for the arming of civilians, the Council issued a presidential statement on 25 April, calling on all Burundians to renounce violence and show the political will to settle their differences peacefully. In another statement on 15 May, it asked the Secretary-General and Member States to urgently facilitate contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response, should the situation deteriorate.

The day before the 25 July coup d'etat, the Council, in a presidential statement, strongly condemned any attempt to overthrow the legitimate Government by force. It also condemned the massacre of civilians, including over 300 women, children and old men, in the Bugendana commune in Gitega province and asked Burundi's authorities to investigate the matter. Four days after the coup, in another presidential statement, the Council condemned the change in government.

In Rwanda, the withdrawal of UNAMIR was completed on 19 April. Prior to its completion, the Council adopted resolution 1050 (1996) on 8 March to encourage the Secretary-General to maintain a United Nations office to help promote national reconciliation, strengthen the judicial system, assist the return of refugees and rehabilitate the infrastructure. The office would be headed by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for that country. The Rwandan Government accepted establishment of the office on 23 April.

Also on 23 April, the Council met on the report of the International Commission of Inquiry, which investigated reports on the supply of arms and related materiel to former Rwandan government forces, and called upon States in the Great Lakes region to ensure that their territories were not used as bases for armed groups to launch incursions against any country. By adopting resolution 1053 (1996), the Council asked the Secretary-General to maintain the Commission. It also urged the States in the Great Lakes region to intensify their efforts to prevent military training and the supply of weapons to militias or former Rwandan government forces and to effectively implement the arms embargo imposed by resolution 1011 (1995).

The Security Council also asked the Secretary-General to consult with States neighbouring Rwanda, in particular Zaire, on appropriate measures to improve the implementation of the arms embargo. The measures could include the deployment of United Nations observers at airfields and border crossing points. However, the arms restrictions placed on the Government of Rwanda by resolution 918 (1994) were ended by the Council, effective 1 September. They were lifted in accordance with resolution 1011 (1995), said the Chairman of the related sanctions committee. Restrictions on the supply of arms and related materiel to non-governmental forces remained.

Angola and Liberia

On 6 February, 25 speakers addressed the situation in Angola. During the debate, the representative of the United States said that the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III), which cost about $1 million daily, must not be undermined by the failure of Angolan leaders to seek peace. The representative of the Russian Federation asked the international community to stop accepting the endless manoeuvres of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

The UNITA was again criticized during another exchange of views on Angola held on 10 October. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, speaking as Chairman of the ministerial delegation of the Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), told the Council that it was time to say "enough is enough" to the "scheming, selfishness, greed and self-aggrandizement" which had stymied Angola's peace process. As the first of 35 speakers at that meeting, he proposed that, if UNITA failed to comply with the Lusaka Protocol, which was signed by UNITA and the Government of Angola in November 1994, its bank accounts should be frozen, its offices closed and its leaders and personnel denied visas.

Regarding UNAVEM, whose mandate was to expire on 11 October, some speakers agreed with the Secretary-General's recommendation that the Council consider only a short extension, until 11 December. On 11 October, the Council adopted resolution 1075 (1996), expressing its readiness to consider enacting trade measures against UNITA and restricting the travel of its personnel unless it made "substantial and genuine progress" in its peace efforts by 20 November.

During the year, the Council extended the mandate of UNAVEM through resolutions 1045 (1996), 1055 (1996), 1064 (1996), 1075 (1996) and 1087 (1996). The latter, adopted on 11 December 1996, extended the Mission's mandate until the end of February 1997 and approved the Secretary-General's recommendation of a resumption of the withdrawal of the military units of UNAVEM at a pace commensurate with progress made in the Angolan peace process. The Council asked the Secretary-General to report, no later than 10 February, on a plan for a limited follow-on United Nations presence in Angola.

During a 25 January debate on the situation in Liberia, which was addressed by 26 speakers, the international community was asked not to yield to the prevailing mood of "Afro-pessimism" and make that country an orphan in the quest for peace. The representative of Ghana recalled a statement by his President that, while the international community was ready to spend $5 million a day on peace-keeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it fell silent when asked to help Liberia.

When factional fighting broke out in Monrovia on 6 April 1996, the Council issued a presidential statement on 9 April calling on the Liberian National Transitional Government and other parties to separate their forces and re-establish law and order in the country. At another Council debate on 28 May, speakers said the deteriorating situation in Liberia showed the faction leaders' lack of commitment to peace and jeopardized international support for peace efforts. The factional leaders were urged to put the need of the Liberian people before their own personal ends in order to avoid the sort of situation which prevailed in Somalia. Council members supported the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL), to enable the parties to fulfil their agreements under the Abuja accords of August 1995, seen as the foundation for a political settlement in Liberia.

Three days later, the Council demanded, in resolution 1059 (1996), that the Liberian parties restore the cease-fire in their nation, withdraw all fighters and arms from Monrovia and restore that city as a safe haven. It also demanded that they allow the deployment of the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG). The Council action was informed by a report of the Secretary-General which stated that, since the fighting broke out on 6 April, the Liberian leaders had shown disrespect for the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community, forcing most of their personnel to move to other countries.

The Council extended UNOMIL's mandate twice, but the extensions were granted with some conditions attached. For example, resolution 1071 (1996) of 30 August, which extended UNOMIL until 30 November, stressed that the continued support of the international community for Liberia's peace process depended on the factions' commitment to resolve their differences peacefully.

Resolution 1083 (1996), of 27 November 1996, which extended UNOMIL through 28 February 1997, strongly condemned the deployment of children for combat and demanded that the parties stop it immediately and demobilize all child soldiers.

Somalia, Sudan, Sierra Leone

In an orientation debate held on 15 March regarding the situation in Somalia, several delegations stressed that the international community had not abandoned that country. Some representatives spoke of the hardships in Somalia, with the rise in malnutrition and fears of the outbreaks of diseases. The observer for the OAU noted that, some months before the Council's meeting, 600,000 Somalis had fled to other countries, with another 500,000 internally displaced. In a 20 December statement, in response to renewed fighting in Mogadishu, the Council called on all Somali factions to cease hostilities and to restore an effective cease-fire.

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter on 16 August, the Council decided to impose sanctions on the Sudan in relation to the attempted assassination of President Mubarak at an OAU summit in Addis Ababa. It also decided to specify in 90 days when those sanctions, which affected Sudanese aircraft, would go into effect, if the Sudan did not comply with earlier Council resolutions 1044 (1996) and 1054 (1996), which had demanded that it extradite to Ethiopia three suspects wanted for the attempt on President Mubarak's life.

Voting 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), the Council adopted resolution 1070 (1996), which decided that all States shall deny Sudanese aircraft permission to take off from, land in or overfly their territories. To inform its decision as to when to put the sanctions into effect, the Council asked the Secretary-General to report by 15 November on the Sudan's compliance with its resolutions.

Regarding the West African country of Sierra Leone, a Council statement on 4 December welcomed the Peace Agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) reached in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on 30 November. It was signed by Sierra Leone's President, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, and the RUF leader, Foday Saybana Sankoh.

The conflict in Sierra Leone began in March 1991. At the request of the then National Provisional Ruling Council in November 1994, then Secretary- General Boutros-Ghali established good offices to encourage talks between the Government and the RUF. Multi-party legislative and presidential elections were held on 26 and 27 February in Sierra Leone, and President Kabbah was inaugurated President on 29 March.

Western Sahara

Action on the situation in Western Sahara, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 May 1997. By resolution 1084 (1996), it asked the Secretary-General to continue his efforts with the parties to the conflict in the territory to implement the Settlement Plan. In a report to the Council, the Secretary-General warned that the international community would not indefinitely extend the Mission unless tangible progress was made towards settling the Western Sahara question.

In resolution 1056 (1996) of 29 May, the Council reduced the Mission's military component by 20 per cent, from 288 to 239, on the understanding that it would not impair effective monitoring of the cease-fire in the territory. By the terms of the resolution, the Council suspended the identification process aimed at listing those eligible for the planned referendum. The suspension would remain in effect until the Moroccan Government and the Frente Popular para la Liberacion de Saguia el-Hamra y Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) showed their commitment to resuming and completing the process without further obstacles. The Council then called on the parties to show political will and flexibility to permit the resumption and early completion of the identification process.

An earlier resolution, 1042 (1996) of 31 January, had expressed the Council's support for the Secretary-General's intention to withdraw MINURSO in the absence of meaningful progress to complete the Settlement Plan. The Plan, accepted by the two parties on 30 August 1988 and approved by the Council on 27 June 1990 in resolution 658 (1990), entails the holding of a referendum to enable Western Saharans to choose between independence from or integration with Morocco. ...
Other Matters

On 15 August, the Security Council held an orientation debate on demining in the context of peace-keeping operations, calling on the international community to take urgent steps to ban the production and use of anti-personnel land-mines. According to information presented during the debate, by some estimates about 64 countries were affected by the devices, with more than 110 million of them uncleared, and mines killed 500 people weekly. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was cited as having estimated that it would cost about $33 billion to clear the mines currently in place across the globe.

As a follow-up, the Council approved a presidential statement on 30 August which said that operational demining should be, wherever appropriate, an integral part of peace-keeping mandates. It, however, stressed the difference between operational mine clearance in peace-keeping, which was the responsibility of the Department of Peace-keeping Operations, and longer-term humanitarian mine-clearance, which was the responsibility of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.

Regarding Libya, the Council adopted a statement on 18 April, which called the flight, two days earlier, of a Libyan-registered aircraft from Tripoli to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a violation of resolution 748 (1992). It called on Libya to refrain from any more violations. Resolution 748 (1992) imposed aerial, arms and diplomatic sanctions against Libya, until the Government complied with requests to cooperate fully in establishing responsibility for terrorist acts against Pan Am flight 103 and the UTA flight 772.

In a statement on 12 April, the Council praised the previous day's signing by over 40 States in Cairo of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (the Treaty of Pelindaba) as an important contribution to international peace and security. It stated that the "historic event" formalized a 32-year commitment by the OAU, which had declared the continent a denuclearized zone. ...

In addition, on 29 February, the Council appointed Canadian Justice Louise Arbour as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. She succeeded Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who resigned effective 1 October.

Council Membership

The Security Council has 15 members. The permanent five are China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States. The 10 rotating members in 1996 were Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Republic of Korea and Poland.

On 1 January 1997, Costa Rica, Japan, Kenya, Portugal and Sweden replaced Botswana, Germany, Italy, Honduras and Indonesia, whose two-year terms expired on 31 December 1996.

From: Message-Id: <> Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 09:23:05 -0500 Subject: Africa: UN Security Council 1996

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific