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        General Assembly
20 August 1996

Original: Arabic/Chinese/English/

General Assembly
Fifty-first session

Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization*

* The present document is an advance version of the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization, which will be issued in final form as Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session, Supplement No. 1 (A/51/1).


I.Introduction: Renewal and reform
1 - 27
II.Coordinating a comprehensive strategy and strengthening administrative structures
28 - 202
A. Organs of the United Nations
28 - 183
B. Ensuring an adequate financial base
184 - 189
C. The fiftieth anniversary
190 - 196
D. United Nations University
197 - 202
III.Building the foundations of peace: development, humanitarian action, human rights
203 - 642
A. Implementing an Agenda for Development
203 - 208
B. Global development activities
209 - 330
C. Regional development activities
331 - 415
D. Operational activities for development
416 - 541
E. The humanitarian imperative
542 - 603
F. Protection and resettlement of refugees
604 - 622
G. Protection and promotion of human rights
623 - 642
IV.Preventing, controlling and resolving conflict
643 - 1127
A. Implementing an Agenda for Peace
643 - 649
B. Preventive diplomacy and peacemaking
650 - 654
C. Peace-keeping
655 - 662
D. Current activities in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping
663 - 1053
E. Cooperation with regional organizations
1054 - 1067
F. Disarmament
1068 - 1092
G. Post-conflict peace-building
1093 - 1127
V.Conclusion: Peace, development, democratization
1128 - 1144

A. Organs of the United Nations


2. Security Council

41. During the period under review, the Security Council continued to meet on an intensive basis to consider appropriate action in response to threats to international peace and security, to adopt various measures aimed at controlling and resolving conflicts, and to muster regional and international support for those measures (see fig. 3).

42. The general trend in the Security Council towards consensus-building also continued. Only one draft resolution, dealing with the situation in the Middle East (Lebanon), was not adopted owing to the lack of the required votes in its favour. Compared with a similar period last year, there was a slight decrease, from 131 to 106, in the number of formal meetings. Likewise, there was a decrease in the number of consultations of the whole of the Council, from 226 to 189. The number of resolutions decreased from 63 to 51, as did the number of presidential statements, from 64 to 49 (see figs. 4 and 5).


6. Secretariat


103. A major achievement in the management of technology has been the remote translation and text processing in all languages at Headquarters locations of all documentation generated by various global conferences. For example, no reference, translation or text-processing staff had to travel to the conference sites for the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on Women, held at Beijing, the ninth session of UNCTAD, held at Midrand, South Africa, or the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), held at Istanbul. Remote translation was also employed for the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People.


Office of Internal Oversight Services


110. During the course of the year I have asked the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services to undertake several missions to areas where I considered it beneficial to receive his assessment on certain issues and where his personal intervention would contribute to achieving management efficiency and effectiveness. The Under-Secretary-General has made several visits to the Centre for Human Rights at Geneva, where a major restructuring was initiated following an inspection of that entity in 1993. The Under-Secretary-General travelled to the former Yugoslavia both before and after the transition to the Implementation Force (IFOR) to assess the United Nations position and the liquidation effort of United Nations Peace Forces (UNPF). In December 1995, he travelled to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to advise me on various managerial issues, including the relocation of its headquarters to Gaza. He also visited the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to investigate reports of fraud.


3. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)


298. In the Middle East, UNEP participated in the peace process through the multilateral working groups on water resources and the environment. It also contributed to inter-agency meetings in support of socio-economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


5. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)


414. The Middle East peace process, the occupied territories and the least developed countries were among issues addressed under the subprogramme on special programmes and issues, which included the following studies: Study and Evaluation of Agricultural Credit Institutions in the Palestinian Territories; Assessment of the Cropping Pattern in the Gaza Strip and Prospects for Development; Investment Environment in the Industrial Sector in Yemen; and Farm Data Handbook: Occupied Territories.

415. The ESCWA secretariat participated in the plenary meeting of the Regional Economic Development Working Group, which was held at Amman on 8 May 1996. Meetings of the Working Group are attended by the countries, from different world regions, that are partners in the Middle East peace process as a follow-up to the Amman Summit held in October 1995. ESCWA was also designated by the Secretary-General as the leading agency to conduct a special technical mission to Lebanon pursuant to General Assembly resolution 50/22 C, to study and prepare a report on the human and material losses and damage resulting from hostilities there (27 May-10 June 1996). In addition, ESCWA participated in the Third United Nations Inter-agency Meeting for the Palestinian Territories, organized by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (Gaza, April 1996); and project documents were prepared on the establishment of business incubators in the occupied Palestinian territories, one in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip.


D. Operational activities for development


1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


445. During 1995, a total of 3,263 United Nations Volunteer (UNV) specialists and field workers, from 134 countries, served in 139 countries. Programme areas that assumed a greater profile in 1995 were poverty eradication, support for peace-building and democratization processes, assistance to countries in transition, and the strengthening of civil society. United Nations Volunteer specialists served in 1995 in Guatemala, Haiti and Rwanda in United Nations peace-keeping and human rights operations. United Nations Volunteers supported the Middle East peace process through the UNV-managed Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) modality and the programme of assistance to the Palestinian people. The “White Helmets” initiative, which was launched by the President of Argentina in 1993 and became operational in 1995, aims at making volunteer teams available on a standby basis through national volunteer corps. The United Nations Short-term Advisory Resources programme, the private sector development arm of UNV, has increasingly focused its attention on countries in transition, completing 124 assignments in 18 countries in 1995. In June 1996, the headquarters of the UNV programme was moved from Geneva to Bonn. In May 1996, the programme celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary at the annual session of the Executive Board.


448. The programme of assistance to the Palestinian people was enlarged in 1995 in direct response to the continuing historic peace process between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In close collaboration with the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, UNDP had developed financial mechanisms that are available to donors to facilitate the social and economic development on which peace and stability depend. During 1995, the programme undertook to formulate, within its overall objectives, a comprehensive strategic framework to guide its activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a three-year period. A key area is employment generation, an ongoing programme which has generated some 75,000 working day opportunities in the Gaza Strip. Total expenditures in 1995 were approximately $34 million, an increase of more than 50 per cent over 1994.


4. Relief operations in the Near East

595. The activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) — the United Nations agency with the largest operational presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — continued to emphasize constructive support to the Middle East peace process and enhancement of socio-economic conditions within the Palestinian refugee community. The Agency's mandate was extended until 30 June 1999 by the General Assembly in its resolution 50/28 A. In January 1996, I designated Under-Secretary-General Peter Hansen Commissioner-General for UNRWA, with headquarters at Gaza and Amman.

596. Within the context of further advancements in the peace process, UNRWA sought to strengthen its relationship with the Palestinian Authority and continued its efforts to harmonize its services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with those of the Authority. Harmonization was pursued in the education, health and relief and social service sectors through formal and informal coordination mechanisms, senior-level contacts, sharing of human resources, joint planning and adoption of Authority standards by the Agency where feasible.

597. The Agency continued to provide ad hoc assistance to the Authority, including through technical assistance, information-sharing, access to emergency medical services and provision of buildings and vehicles. The Agency also handed over to the Authority an uninhabited refugee camp site in the Jericho area. Agency support for the Palestinian election process included assistance with voter registration, transport of election material and use of Agency premises for voting. UNRWA participated in the multilateral aid coordination mechanisms associated with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. The Agency's mandate under General Assembly resolution 49/21 O to disburse voluntary contributions by donors for salaries and other start-up costs of the Palestinian Police Force ended in December 1995, after the last disbursement in July 1995.

598. The Vienna headquarters of UNRWA was relocated to the area of operations, in accordance with the decision of the Secretary-General announced in June 1994 and General Assembly resolution 49/35 A. Following a number of early steps to transfer certain activities and staff to Gaza, construction of a new building to accommodate headquarters offices at Gaza commenced in October 1995 and was completed in July 1996, at which time the Vienna-based units were transferred. The Agency's 10-member Advisory Commission was to be reconstituted at Amman. Significant constraints on Agency operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip arising from security restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities were of particular concern to the Agency in view of the relocation.

599. The Agency's Peace Implementation Programme, introduced in October 1993, continued to expand, with the aim of improving infrastructure, stabilizing socio-economic conditions and creating jobs among the refugee community in the Agency's five fields of operation. By June 1996, the Agency had received a total of $192.6 million in pledges and contributions under the Programme. The 276 projects funded under the Programme were for construction, maintenance and upgrading of Agency facilities, rehabilitation and repair of refugee shelters, improvements to the environmental health infrastructure and enhancement of the Agency's income-generation programme. Work proceeded on the construction and equipping of the 232-bed European Gaza Hospital, which was expected to be completed before the end of 1996. Towards the end of the reporting period, it was agreed that the hospital would eventually become an integral part of the health system of the Palestinian Authority.

600. Through its regular programmes of assistance, UNRWA provided essential education, health and relief and social services to 3.3 million Palestinian refugees registered with the Agency in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Agency's ongoing special hardship programme provided direct relief to refugee households with no male adult medically fit to support them and without sufficient income from other sources to meet basic needs. Under the programme, some 179,178 refugees were provided with food rations and medical care subsidies and were eligible for additional assistance, including shelter rehabilitation, emergency cash grants, poverty alleviation initiatives and preferential access to training centres.

601. The Agency's 637 schools accommodated 421,854 pupils, mostly at the elementary and preparatory levels during the 1995/96 school year, with 5,449 training places offered at the eight Agency training centres. The Agency's network of 121 health centres and points, including the 43-bed Kalkiliya Hospital in the West Bank, handled 6.6 million patient/visits during the year. Environmental health services, including sewage and refuse disposal, waste-water management and provision of clean drinking water, were provided to over 1 million refugees in 59 camps. A range of social services was provided to over 25,000 refugees through the women's programme, community rehabilitation and youth activity centres sponsored by UNRWA. The income-generation programme provided loans valued at $4.4 million to 1,640 enterprises, with emphasis on the Gaza Strip.

602. Emergency humanitarian assistance was provided by the Agency as needs arose and to the extent possible within available resources. To address the socio-economic hardship resulting from the extended closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip imposed in February 1996, the Agency launched an emergency job-creation programme in March, which provided temporary gainful employment to over 2,500 participants. To meet humanitarian needs arising from hostilities in southern Lebanon in April, UNRWA conducted emergency distributions of basic commodities and supplies in the Saida and Tyre areas with the support of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Some 600 displaced persons also found temporary shelter in four Agency schools. With regard to the situation of Palestinians required to leave the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya who were encamped at the Libyan-Egyptian border, UNRWA and UNHCR monitored their situation. The Agency also provided emergency assistance to Palestinians stranded between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

603. The Agency's financial position continued to worsen, with 1995 the third consecutive year in which a budget deficit was recorded. The UNRWA regular and emergency cash budget was $632 million for the biennium 1994-1995 and $692 million for 1996-1997, with a significant part of the increase attributable to the inclusion of a $25.4 million provision for separation benefits payable to 22,000 staff upon the eventual dissolution of UNRWA. The Agency ended 1995 with a funding shortfall of $8.4 million, reducing its working capital to $8.2 million. In that context, the Agency was forced to carry forward into 1996 some $14.5 million in austerity measures originally imposed in 1993, and in June 1996 introduced a further $9 million in cost-saving measures in response to a sizeable projected deficit for the year. In addition to the deficit in the Agency's regular budget, shortfalls in funding were experienced in the special budgets for the headquarters relocation and the European Gaza Hospital.


IV. Preventing, controlling and resolving conflict


B. Preventive diplomacy and peacemaking


654. The last year has witnessed abhorrent terrorist crimes; as a result, there is a greater sense of urgency in the international community about the need for more effective measures against the perpetrators of terrorism and their sponsors. The Summit of Peacemakers held at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 13 March 1996 to confront the acts of violence in the Middle East was the most significant demonstration of the international community's commitment to take action. The Summit stressed the need to promote coordination of efforts to stop acts of terror and to cut off the sources of financing for terrorist groups. At the Summit, I stressed the pioneering role of the General Assembly in adopting on 9 December 1994 the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism, which it reaffirmed in its resolution 50/53 of 11 December 1995. The adoption of that resolution meant that the United Nations was the only global forum where countries had come together to work against terrorism and it was, therefore, through decisions taken by the Assembly that States could find the instruments to combat terrorism as a global threat. The United Nations is ready to serve as a mechanism for international mobilization against terrorism.


D. Current activities in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping


19. Middle East

854. The period covered by this report was marked by a series of developments underlining the existing difficulties but also demonstrating the parties' determination to proceed on the road to peace. The concentrated efforts of the United Nations have been aimed at supporting the peace process, politically and economically, in order to reinforce what has been achieved in the course of negotiations and to help build the foundations for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

855. Following the signing of the Interim Agreement by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on 28 September 1995, the redeployment of Israeli military forces began in November and was completed, in some cases ahead of schedule, in a number of major cities in the West Bank and in many towns and villages. Authority was transferred to the Palestinians in varying degrees in additional areas, such as local government and commercial activities, and the arrival of Palestinian police was carried out smoothly. A particularly outstanding achievement was the holding of the first Palestinian elections on 20 January 1996. I warmly welcomed this decisive development, which constituted an important step towards the achievement of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and provided a solid basis towards their self-determination.

856. The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been accompanied by tragic events, however, first and foremost the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at a peace rally in Tel Aviv on 4 November 1995. I represented the United Nations at his funeral. The world was further dismayed by four suicide bombings in Israel in February and March, which caused 60 deaths and hundreds of injuries. I condemned this upsurge of terrorism in the strongest terms and called on the world community to unite in action against such despicable acts of violence. Following these events, I attended the Summit of Peacemakers in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the invitation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and United States President Bill Clinton. Fully supporting the Summit’s decisions, I expressed the readiness of the United Nations to assist in implementing them in the legal and practical fields.

857. At the same time, the prolonged closure of the West Bank and Gaza, which was intended by Israel to prevent further terrorist attacks, became the focus of international attention because of its drastic effect on the Palestinian economy. In a letter dated 28 March, I urged Prime Minister Shimon Peres to consider lifting the closure, at least gradually, in order to allow the normal provision of services by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to Palestinian refugees. The subject was taken up by the Security Council at a formal meeting on 15 April 1996.

858. The United Nations system of programmes and agencies, under the general guidance of the Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, Terje Rod Larsen, has continued to provide assistance to the Palestinian people. A coordination mechanism has been established on the ground to ensure effective disbursement of donor funds. A measure of progress has been achieved in job creation, institution-building, infrastructure development and police training. However, some momentum was lost because of Israel's closure of the West Bank and Gaza, and it took more effort to sustain these improvements.

859. In late March, the Special Coordinator, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel and key donors, developed an emergency humanitarian plan in an effort to ease the social and economic dislocation of the Palestinians. Immediately put into effect, the plan has attempted to alleviate closure-related hardships and losses by creating job opportunities, project development and the mobilization of necessary resources.

860. On 15 July, UNRWA headquarters were transferred from Vienna to Gaza City. The move will allow much closer coordination between headquarters and field operations and better contact between UNRWA and the beneficiaries of its services, the Palestinian refugees.

861. The situation in southern Lebanon, where Israel has continued to occupy Lebanese territory, remained tense and volatile. Hostilities continued between the Israel Defence Forces and armed elements, mainly the Islamic Resistance, who have proclaimed their determination to resist the Israeli occupation. On several occasions, civilian targets on both sides came under attack. I urged the parties to exercise restraint, bearing in mind the risk of escalation, which remains high in a situation where the actions of the parties on the ground are influenced both by local dynamics and strategic considerations. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) continued to do its best to limit the conflict and to protect inhabitants from its effects.

862. In February and March, there was a steady escalation of tension along the Israel-Lebanon border. The fighting in Lebanon intensified and the number of military casualties, in particular on the Israeli side, increased. In one incident, on 4 March, four Israel Defence Force soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded by a roadside bomb. In another incident, on 20 March, a suicide bomber hurled himself at an Israeli convoy in south Lebanon, killing one Israeli officer and wounding five others. These incidents coincided with suicide bomb attacks in Israel, responsibility for which was claimed by the Palestinian faction Hamas. On 30 March, armed elements in Lebanon fired rockets towards Israel after two civilians in Lebanon had been killed by Israeli missile fire. On 9 April, armed elements again fired rockets towards Israel after a south Lebanese youth was killed in the explosion of an anti-personnel device. The rockets caused damage and mostly light casualties among Israeli citizens.

863. A particularly grave escalation of hostilities occurred in April. From 11 to 26 April, the Israel Defence Forces launched massive artillery strikes against southern Lebanon and air raids inside Lebanon, including Beirut and the Beka’a valley. Israeli aircraft carried out attacks on villages in and around the UNIFIL area of operation. In response, armed elements fired more than 1,000 rockets at targets in Israel and at Israeli positions in Lebanon, causing injuries and damage. Concerned about the dangerous flare-up of fighting, I urged the parties to exercise restraint and to implement all relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council addressed the situation in Lebanon during a formal meeting on 15 April.

864. The hostilities resulted in hundreds of casualties among Lebanese civilians and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Dozens of Lebanese villages were destroyed or damaged. Roads, bridges and elements of infrastructure were targeted and put out of order or demolished. More than 5,000 people sought refuge with UNIFIL. In one incident on 18 April, more than 100 people were killed and hundreds wounded when Israeli shells hit the UNIFIL position (the headquarters of the Fijian battalion) in the village of Qana at a time when hundreds of civilians had sought refuge there.

865. I viewed with utmost gravity the shelling of the Fijian position, as I would hostilities directed against any United Nations peace-keeping position. In view of the seriousness of the events at Qana, I immediately dispatched my Military Adviser, Major-General Franklin van Kappen, to Lebanon to conduct an investigation into the shelling and submitted his findings and Israel's comments to the Security Council.

866. At another formal meeting on 18 April, the Security Council adopted resolution 1052 (1996), in which it called for an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties and supported the ongoing diplomatic efforts to that end. It also called upon all concerned to respect the safety, security and freedom of movement of UNIFIL and to allow it to fulfil its mandate without any obstacle or interference. Subsequently, the General Assembly, during its resumed fiftieth session and at the request of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, adopted resolution 50/22 C entitled “The Israeli military attacks against Lebanon and their consequences”, under the agenda item on the situation in the Middle East.

867. The fighting stopped after the announcement of a cease-fire agreement on 26 April, which was the result of intensive diplomatic efforts by the United States and France in particular. Armed groups in Lebanon committed themselves not to carry out attacks into Israel and Israel undertook not to fire at civilian targets in Lebanon. The understanding provides for a monitoring group consisting of France, Israel, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United States. This agreement has the potential to contribute to the protection of civilians and to restrain the parties, and I have instructed UNIFIL to provide assistance to the monitoring group, which has requested facilities for its meetings at the UNIFIL headquarters compound at Naqoura. I welcomed the agreement and expressed my earnest hope that the restoration of calm in the area would enhance the prospects for negotiations leading to a comprehensive peace settlement that would preclude further tragic events. Since the end of April, the situation in southern Lebanon has been relatively calm, allowing the return of displaced people to their home areas. However, hostilities between armed elements and Israeli forces have continued as before.

868. Throughout the violence, UNIFIL continued to do its best to protect the civilian population and to provide humanitarian assistance. Despite the Israeli bombardment and harassment by both sides, UNIFIL continued to patrol its area actively. It organized convoys for the villagers who wished to leave and brought supplies for those who chose to remain. It also provided shelter, food and medicine to the civilians who had sought protection at its camps and positions.

869. On 13 April, the Government of Lebanon requested the United Nations to prepare and launch an international appeal for assistance. One week later, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs launched a flash appeal seeking $8.6 million for emergency relief for the 20,000 most affected families, representing 100,000 to 120,000 of the 400,000 persons displaced by the hostilities. The overall response of the international community has been positive, with donors committing approximately $13 million. On 20 and 21 April, the Department dispatched two aircraft to Beirut with relief supplies made available by the Government of Italy with a total value of $250,000. Commodities included blankets, emergency health kits, jerry cans, kitchen sets, water tanks, water pumps and generators, most of which were transferred to the UNIFIL logistics base at Tyre for distribution in the affected areas.

870. In its resolution 1068 (1996) of 30 July, the Security Council reaffirmed the mandate of UNIFIL as defined in its resolution 425 (1978) and subsequent resolutions, namely, to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, to restore international peace and security and to assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. Pursuant to Council resolution 1006 (1995), the operation's administrative and support services have been streamlined, an exercise completed in May 1996 that should achieve direct savings in personnel costs of approximately $10 million per year. The year's events have highlighted the obstacles that have for so long prevented UNIFIL from implementing its mandate. As in the past, the parties have not cooperated with the Force to the extent required and there has been no active political pressure on them to do so. In the circumstances, UNIFIL has done its best to limit violence and to protect the civilian population. However, as a peace-keeping force, it is powerless when either party is bent on confrontation.

871. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) continued to supervise the separation between Israeli and Syrian forces and the limitation of armaments and forces provided for in the disengagement agreement of 1974. With the cooperation of both sides, UNDOF has discharged its tasks effectively and its area of operation has been quiet. In my report of 28 May, I noted that the enduring scarcity of resources available to the Organization had compelled me to seek ways to reduce expenditures in UNDOF and other peace-keeping operations. Since 1992, UNDOF has implemented two streamlining exercises, which have reduced its size and budget by more than 20 per cent, leaving it a very lean and cost-effective operation. That this had been possible is due in large part to the very good cooperation extended to the Force by both Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. UNDOF will be kept under close scrutiny with a view to using every opportunity for further economies.

872. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which was the first United Nations peace-keeping operation and is thus the oldest, having been in existence for over 48 years, has continued to assist UNDOF and UNIFIL in carrying out their tasks and has maintained its small presence in Egypt. A gradual streamlining undertaken by UNTSO is nearing completion. This exercise will result in a reduction in strength and corresponding savings in its annual budget of over 20 per cent.

873. Multilateral negotiations on Middle East regional issues such as economic cooperation, environment, refugees and water resources have continued, creating a network of common projects among countries in the region. The United Nations is actively engaged as a full extraregional participant in these proceedings.



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