ESSAY: YEARS OF UN PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS
Origin of the UNO
The way UN works
Security Council activity
UN peacekeeping missions
UN and human rights
UN humanitarian assistance to developing countries
UN activity in the sphere of disarmament
The problem of Iraqi military arsenal
5.2.1 Iraq/Kuwait conflict
5.2.2. UNIKOM Establishment
Most people are familiar with the work of the United Nations in
peacekeeping or in delivering humanitarian assistance to a far-off
country. But the many ways in which the UN has a direct impact on all
our lives, everywhere in the world, is not always so well-known.
Now that world mass media reflect the news about the UNO in detail, it
is very challenging to know different points of view, and I took an
interest in this problem. I heard about UN activity but didn’t reach the
main point, like the majority of my coevals, who are familiar with the
events that concern the UNO but don’t fully understand the essence of
them. UN activity in preserving peace has attracted me most of all. The
arms race, disputes between nations, wars, military conflicts have
turned into the real danger to the mankind. I think that people must
stop killing each other and end this violence. I’ve chosen the UN
peacekeeping missions and especially in Iraq as a specific example of
UN’s work. It is very urgent nowadays.
II. ORIGIN OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Day in, day out, the UN and its family of organizations work together
and individually to protect human rights; promote the protection of the
environment; help the advancement of women and the rights of children;
fight epidemics, famine, poverty. Throughout the world, the UN and its
agencies assist refugees and help improve telecommunication; deliver
food aid and protect consumers; combat disease and help expand food
production; make loans to developing countries and help stabilize
financial markets. UN agencies define the standards for safe and
efficient transport by air and sea, work to ensure respect for
intellectual property rights and coordinate allocation of radio
frequencies. The UN’s work has a long-term impact on the quality of our
The name “United Nations” was devised by United States President
Franklin D. Roosevelt and was first used in the “Declaration by United
Nations” of January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when
representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue
fighting together against the Axis Powers.
The United Nations Charter was drawn up by the representatives of 50
countries at the United Nations Conference on International
Organization, which met at San Francisco from April 25 to June 26, 1945.
Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the
representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the
United States at Dumbarton Oaks in August-October 1944. The Charter was
signed on June 26, 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries.
Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and
became one of the original 51 Member States.
The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945,
when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union,
the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other
signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24 each year.
III. THE WAY UN WORKS
The United Nations is an organization of sovereign nations. It provides
the machinery to help find solutions to international problems or
disputes, and to deal with pressing concerns that face people
It does not legislate like a national parliament. But in the meeting
rooms and corridors of the UN, representatives of almost all countries
of the world -large and small, rich and poor, with varying political
views and social systems -have a voice and vote in shaping the policies
of the international community.
The UN has six main bodies listed below. All are based at UN
Headquarters in New York, except the International Court of Justice,
which is located at the Hague, Netherlands.
In addition, 14 specialized agencies, working in areas as diverse as
health, finance, agriculture, civil aviation and telecommunications, are
linked together through the Economic and Social Council. The UN and its
specialized agencies constitute the UN system. Main bodies of the UN
are: HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/ga/” the General Assembly , Security
Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the
International Court of Justice and the Secretariat.
3.1 Main Bodies
HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/ga/” The General Assembly
The General Assembly, sometimes called the nearest thing to a world
parliament, is the main deliberative body. All 185 Member States are
represented in it, and each has one vote. Decisions on ordinary matters
are taken by simple majority. Important questions require a two-thirds
The Assembly holds its regular sessions from mid-September to
mid-December. Special or emergency sessions are held when necessary.
When the Assembly is not in session, its work goes on in special
committees and bodies.
The Assembly has the right to discuss and make recommendations on all
matters within the scope of the UN Charter – the Organization’s founding
document. It has no power to compel action by any Government, but its
recommendations carry the weight of world opinion. The Assembly also
sets policies and determines programs for the UN Secretariat, directs
activities for development, and approves the UN budget, including
peacekeeping operations. Occupying a central position in the UN, the
Assembly receives reports from other organs, admits new Members and
appoints the UN Secretary – General.
HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/ecosoc.html” The Economic
and Social Council
Working under the authority of the General Assembly, the Economic and
Social Council coordinates the economic and social work of the UN and
related specialized agencies and institutions. The Council has 54
members, and meets for a one-month session each year, alternating
between New York and Geneva. The session includes a special meeting at
the level of ministers to discuss major economic and social issues.
The Council oversees UN activities and policies promoting economic
growth in developing countries, administering development projects,
promoting the observance of human rights, and fostering international
cooperation in areas such as housing, family planning, environmental
protection and crime prevention.
HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/tc.html” The Trusteeship
The Trusteeship Council was established to ensure that Governments
responsible for administering trust territories take adequate steps to
prepare them for self-government or independence. The task of the
Trusteeship System was completed in 1994, when the Security Council
terminated the Trusteeship Agreement for the last of the original 11 UN
Trusteeships – the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Palau),
administered by the United States. All Trust Territories have attained
self-government or independence, either as separate States or by joining
neighbouring independent countries. The Trusteeship Council will now
meet as and where circumstances so demand.
HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/icj.html” The
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) is
the main judicial organ of the UN, settling legal disputes between
member states and giving advisory opinions to the UN and its agencies.
It consists of 15 judges, elected by the General Assembly and the
Security Council. Only countries may be parties in cases brought before
the Court. If a country does not wish to take part in a proceeding, it
does not have to do so (unless required by special treaty provisions),
but if it accepts, it is obligated to comply with the Court’s decision.
HYPERLINK “http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/secretariat.html” The
The Secretariat works for the other five organs of the UN and
administers their programs. With a staff of some 8,900 under the regular
budget, working at headquarters and all over the world, it carries out
the day-to-day work of the UN. At its head is the Secretary – General.
He plays a central role in peacemaking, both personally and through
special envoys. The Secretary – General may bring to the attention of
the Security Council any matter which appears to threaten international
peace and security. To help resolve disputes, the Secretary – General
may use “good offices” to carry out mediation, or exercise “quiet
diplomacy” behind the scenes. The Secretary – General also conducts
“preventive diplomacy” to help resolve disputes before they escalate.
In many instances, the Secretary – General has been instrumental in
securing a peace agreement or in averting a threat to peace. The current
secretary general is Kofi Annan, who succeeded Boutros Boutros Ghali in
1997 (see appendix C).
Staff members are drawn from some 170 countries.
3.2 Security Council Activity
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the Charter, for
the maintenance of international peace and security. It is so organized
as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of
its members must be present at all times at United Nations Headquarters.
When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the
Council’s first action is usually to recommend to the parties to try to
reach agreement by peaceful means. In some cases, the Council itself
undertakes investigation and mediation. It may appoint special
representatives or request the Secretary – General to do so or to use
his good offices. It may set forth principles for a peaceful settlement.
When a dispute leads to fighting, the Council’s first concern is to
bring it to an end as soon as possible. It also sends United Nations
peace-keeping forces to help reduce tensions in troubled areas, keep
opposing forces apart and create conditions of calm in which peaceful
settlements may be sought. The Council may decide on enforcement
measures, economic sanctions (such as trade embargoes) or collective
A member state against which preventive or enforcement action has been
taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the
rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly on the
recommendation of the Security Council. A member state which has
persistently violated the principles of the Charter may be expelled from
the United Nations by the Assembly on the Council’s recommendation.
The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, according to the English
alphabetical listing of its member states (see appendix D).
The Council has 15 members – five permanent members and 10 elected by
the General Assembly for a two-year term.
The following countries ended their two-year membership term on
December 31, 1997:
Republic of Korea
Each Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are
made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members.
Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the
concurring votes of all five permanent members. This is the rule of
“great power unanimity”, often referred to as the “veto” power.
Under the Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and
carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of
the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council
alone has the power to take decisions which member states are obligated
under the Charter to carry out.
Under the Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:
to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the
principles and purposes of the United Nations;
to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to
to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of
to formulate plans for the establishment of a threat to peace or act of
aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not
involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
to take military action against an aggressor;
to recommend the admission of new members and the terms on which states
may become parties to the HYPERLINK
“http://www.un.org/Overview/Statute/contents.html” Statute of the
International Court of Justice;
to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in
to recommend to the HYPERLINK
“http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/ga.html” General Assembly the
appointment of the HYPERLINK
“http://www.un.org/Overview/SG/sg_func.html” Secretary – General and,
together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International
IV. UN ACTIVITY
4.1 UN Peace-Keeping Missions
United Nations peacekeepers, wearing distinctive UN blue helmets or
berets, are dispatched by the Security Council to help implement peace
agreements, monitor cease-fires, patrol demilitarized zones, create
buffer zones between opposing forces, and put fighting on hold while
negotiators seek peaceful solutions to disputes. But ultimately, the
success of peacekeeping depends on the consent and cooperation of the
The UN does not have an army. For each peacekeeping mission, member
states voluntarily provide troops and equipment, for which they are
compensated from a special peacekeeping budget. Police officers,
election observers, human rights monitors and other civilians sometimes
work alongside military personnel in peacekeeping operations. Lightly
armed for self-defense — and often unarmed — peacekeepers’ strongest
“weapon” is their impartiality. They rely on persuasion and minimal use
of force to defuse tensions and prevent fighting. It is dangerous
business; approximately 1,500 UN peacekeepers have died in the
performance of their duties since 1945.
Rank-and-file soldiers on peacekeeping missions do not swear allegiance
to the United Nations. Governments that volunteer personnel carefully
negotiate the terms of their participation — including command and
control arrangements. They retain ultimate authority over their own
military forces serving under the UN flag, including disciplinary and
personnel matters, and may withdraw their troops if they wish.
Peacekeeping soldiers wear their own national uniforms. To identify
themselves as peace-keepers, they also wear blue berets or helmets and
the UN insignia.
The cost of UN peacekeeping personnel and equipment peaked at about $3
billion in 1995, reflecting the expense of operations in the former
Yugoslavia. Peacekeeping costs fell in 1996 and 1997, to $1.4 billion
and some $1.3 billion, respectively — and estimated budgetary
requirements for 1998 are expected to drop to under $1 billion.
All Member States are obligated to pay their share of peacekeeping costs
under a formula that they themselves have agreed upon. But as of 15
March 1998, member states owed the UN $1.7 billion in current and back
peacekeeping dues. The United States is by far the largest debtor, owing
Since 1945, there have been 48 United Nations peacekeeping operations.
There are currently 16 under way. Thirty-five peacekeeping operations
were created by the Security Council in the years between 1988 — when UN
peacekeeping operations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — and June
In Angola, UN mediation led to the 1994 peace accord and to the
installation of a government of national unity in 1997, formally uniting
a country devastated by 20 years of civil war. A UN operation is in
place to help put the peace accord into effect. The UN also continues to
provide humanitarian assistance to the Angolan people.
In Somalia, after the outbreak of civil war in 1991, the UN brought
relief to millions facing starvation and helped to stop the large-scale
killings. From 1992 to 1995, two UN operations sought to restore order,
protect delivery of humanitarian relief, promote reconciliation and help
reconstruction. Under difficult conditions, various UN agencies continue
to provide humanitarian assistance.
The UN helped secure peace in Mozambique. The UN Operation in Mozambique
(ONUMOZ) was deployed in the country in 1992 to help put into effect the
peace agreement between the Government and the Mozambican National
Resistance. ONUMOZ monitored the cease-fire, verified the demobilization
of combatants, coordinated humanitarian aid and observed in 1994 the
country’s first multi-party elections, which led to the peaceful
installation of a new Government. Today, the World Bank, the UN
Development Program and other parts of the UN family are working with
the Government to help forge the economic and social progress needed to
underpin the democratic process.
The UN helped end the 12-year conflict in Cambodia and organized the
1993 elections that led to the installation of a new Government.
Earlier, the Secretary – General had used his “good offices” in the
search for peace, helping to mediate the 1991 peace accord. The UN
Transitional Authority in Cambodia was then deployed to supervise the
cease-fire between the parties, disarm combatants, repatriate refugees,
and organize and conduct the elections.
In Afghanistan, mediation by a UN envoy led to the 1988 agreements
between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States
aimed at ending the conflict. To help put the agreements into effect,
the UN deployed an observer mission, which also verified Soviet troop
withdrawal. The Secretary – General and his envoys have continued to
work for a peaceful settlement of the continuing civil war. UN agencies
provide assistance to the some 2.3 million Afghan refugees.
…in the Americas
The UN has helped resolve protracted conflicts in Central America. In
Guatemala, UN-assisted negotiations resulted in the 1996 peace accord,
ending a 35-year conflict during which over 100,000 people were killed.
The UN began supervising talks between the Government and the Guatemalan
National Revolutionary Unity in 1991. In 1994, two agreements opened the
way to a settlement of the conflict, and led to the deployment of the UN
Mission for the Verification of Human Rights in Guatemala. The Mission
has remained in the country to help put into effect the peace accord.
In 1990, the UN observed the first democratic elections in Haiti. After
a military coup in 1991 forced the President into exile, the UN mediated
an agreement for the return to democracy. As Haiti’s military leaders
did not comply with the agreement, the Security Council authorized in
1994 the formation of a multinational force to facilitate the leaders’
departure. After the landing of a United States – led multinational
force, the exiled President returned to Haiti in 1994. A UN peacekeeping
force, which took over from the multinational force in 1995, contributes
to stability in the young democracy.
In El Salvador, the Secretary – General assisted in peace talks between
the Government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
His mediation led to the 1992 peace agreement between the Government and
FMLN, which ended the 12-year conflict. A UN Observer Mission monitored
all agreements concluded between the parties and observed the 1994
A UN mission deployed between 1989 and 1992 contributed to ending the
fighting in Nicaragua. It helped demobilize some 22,000 members of the
Nicaraguan resistance (also known as “contras”), who in 1990 turned in
their weapons to the UN. Another mission observed the 1990 elections –
the first UN-observed elections in an independent country.
Throughout Central America, UN specialized agencies and programs are
working hand in hand to ensure that refugees are safely repatriated and
provided with the tools to start over. They also provide training for
civil servants, police, human rights monitors and legal professionals to
promote good governance and the rule of law.
Following the 1995 Dayton-Paris peace agreements, four UN missions were
deployed to help secure the peace in the former Yugoslavia. The largest
of them, the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slovenia, was
established to govern this area and help reintegrate it into Croatia.
From 1991, the UN worked strenuously to resolve the conflict, providing
at the same time relief assistance to some 4 million people. To help
restore peace, the UN imposed an arms embargo in 1991, while the
Secretary – General and his envoy assisted in seeking solutions to the
conflict. From 1992 to 1995, UN peacekeepers sought to bring peace and
security to Croatia, helped protect civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina
and helped ensure that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was not
drawn into the war.
UN agencies continue to provide humanitarian assistance to over 2
million people still suffering the effects of the conflict.
…in the Middle East
The Middle East has been a major concern of the UN. In 1948, the first
UN military observer group monitored the truce called for by the
Security Council during the first Arab-Israeli war. The first
peacekeeping force was also set up in the Middle East, during the 1956
Suez crisis; it oversaw troop withdrawal and contributed to peace and
Two peacekeeping forces are deployed in the region. The UN Disengagement
Observer Force, established in 1974, maintains an area of separation on
the Golan Heights between Israeli and Syrian troops. In southern
Lebanon, a UN Force established in 1978 contributes to stability and
provides protection to the population.
Hand in hand with peacekeeping, the UN has sought a lasting settlement
in the Middle East. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338
(1973) set forth the principles for a just and lasting peace, and remain
the basis for an overall settlement. Following the 1993 landmark
agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, a UN
Coordinator has been overseeing all development assistance provided by
the UN to the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. The UN
Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
provides essential health, education, relief and social services to over
3 million registered Palestinian refugees.
Military peacekeepers are the most visible, but not the only, UN peace
presence in the field. UN envoys and other civilian personnel are
engaged in diplomacy, human rights monitoring and other peace efforts in
scores of regions threatened or afflicted by fighting often in the most
4.2 UN and Human Rights
The Charter goals of justice and equal rights, for individuals and for
peoples, have been pursued by the UN from its early days.
As one of its first tasks, the UN formulated the HYPERLINK
“http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html” Universal Declaration of Human
Rights , a historic proclamation of the basic rights and freedoms to
which all men and women are entitled – the right to life, liberty and
nationality, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to work, to
be educated, to take part in government, and many other rights. The
General Assembly adopted the Declaration on 10 December 1948, a date
commemorated every year as Human Rights Day.
Two International Covenants adopted in 1966 – one on economic, social
and cultural rights and the other on civil and political rights – have
expanded and made legally binding the rights set forth in the
Declaration. These three documents constitute the International Bill of
Human Rights, a standard and a goal for all countries and peoples.
The UN has also put in place mechanisms to further human rights. The UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights coordinates all the human rights
activities of the UN, seeks to prevent violations, investigates abuses
and works with Governments in resolving violations.
The UN Commission on Human Rights is the only intergovernmental body
that conducts public meetings on human rights abuses brought to its
attention and reviews the human rights performance of all Member States.
Special reporters of the Commission monitor the human rights problems in
UN missions are monitoring the human rights situation in Haiti,
Guatemala and Eastern Slovenia (Croatia).
The Security Council has established international tribunals to try
persons accused of war crimes during the conflicts in the former
Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. The tribunals have indicted several
individuals and brought a number of defendants to trial.
Self-determination and independence.
A fundamental right – self-determination, or the right of peoples to
govern themselves – was a goal when the Charter was signed. Today, it
has become a reality in most of the lands formerly under colonial rule.
In 1960, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of
Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, in which it proclaimed
the need to bring colonialism to a speedy end. Since then, some 60
former colonial Territories, inhabited by more than 80 million people,
have attained independence and joined the UN as sovereign Members.
Today, 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remain, inhabited by some 2
million people. The Assembly has set the goal of ending colonialism by
the year 2000, declaring the 1990s the International Decade for the
Eradication of Colonialism.
The UN helped bring about the independence of Namibia, achieved in 1990.
The General Assembly in 1966 revoked South Africa’s Mandate to
administer the territory – a decision South Africa rejected. Complex
negotiations led in 1989 to the implementation of the 1978 UN plan for
the independence of Namibia. The UN Transition Assistance Group was
deployed throughout Namibia to monitor the withdrawal of South African
troops, the registration of voters, and the 1989 elections, which led to
the installation of the first independent Government and to Namibia’s
To further democratization, the UN has also observed elections, at
Government request, in sovereign member states: in Nicaragua and Haiti
(1990), Angola (1992), El Salvador, South Africa and Mozambique (1994),
as well as the referendum on the independence of Eritrea (1993). In
other instances – such as Malawi, Lesotho and Armenia – the UN has
coordinated international observers provided by member states.
Observers typically follow the preparation and holding of the election;
on election day, they are deployed to polling stations throughout the
country, observe voting and vote counting, and issue a final statement
on the conduct of the election.
Since 1992, the UN has provided technical assistance in the preparation
and holding of elections to over 70 countries. Such assistance, which
may involve coordination and support, advisory services and short-term
observation, is instrumental in building the capacity of countries to
run their elections in the future.
Apartheid applies to all aspects of life. Socially, blacks had to live
apart from the other races. Politically, they could not vote.
Economically, they could work only in the lowest paying occupations.
The UN helped to bring an end in 1994 to South Africa’s apartheid
(racial segregation) system. For more than three decades, the UN carried
out a sustained campaign against apartheid. The campaign, which ranged
from an arms embargo to a convention against segregated sports events,
helped to bring about a democratically elected Government in 1994,
through elections in which, for the first time, all South Africans could
vote. The UN Observer Mission in South Africa assisted in the transition
and observed the election. With the installation of a non-racial and
democratic government, the apartheid system came to an end.
The UN has made major contributions towards expanding the rule of law
among nations through its development and codification of international
law. The International Court of Justice has assisted countries in
solving important legal disputes and has issued advisory opinions on UN
The UN has initiated hundreds of conventions and treaties covering
virtually all areas of international law – from international trade to
environmental protection. Action has been particularly strong in human
For instance, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women is the main international legal instrument
to further women’s equality. The Convention against Illicit Traffic in
Narcotic Drugs is the key international treaty against drug trafficking.
The Convention on the Law of the Sea seeks to ensure equitable access by
all countries to the riches of the oceans, protect them from pollution
and facilitate freedom of navigation and research.
4.3 UN Humanitarian Assistance to Developing Countries
When countries are stricken by war, famine or natural disaster, the UN
helps provide humanitarian aid. Part of this aid is in the form of
direct assistance from the UN operational agencies and programs: The
HYPERLINK “http://www.unhcr.ch” Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) , HYPERLINK “http://www.fao.org” the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) , HYPERLINK
“http://www.who.ch” the World Health Organization (WHO) , the HYPERLINK
“http://www.unicc.org/wfp” World Food Program (WFP) , the HYPERLINK
“http://www.unicef.org” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the HYPERLINK
“http://www.undp.org” UN Development Program (UNDP) .
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is
responsible for the protection and assistance of over 26 million people
around the world who have fled war or persecution, seeking at the same
time durable solutions to their plight. In early 1997, UNHCR’s major
operations were in the Great Lakes region of Africa, with over 1.4
million people in need; the former Yugoslavia (over 2 million people);
and western Asia (some 2.3 million Afghan refugees).
All UN emergency relief is coordinated by the UN Emergency Relief
Coordinator, who heads the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs.
In 1996, the UN raised $1.3 billion for emergency assistance to over 22
million people around the world.
5.1 UN Activity in the Sphere of Disarmament
Halting the arms race and reducing and eventually eliminating all
weapons of war are major concerns of the UN. The UN has been a permanent
forum for disarmament negotiations, making recommendations and
initiating studies. Negotiations have been held bilaterally and through
international bodies such as the Conference on Disarmament, which meets
regularly in Geneva.
The General Assembly adopted in 1996 the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a
landmark agreement that aims at banning all nuclear-weapon tests.
In a major step in advancing non-proliferation, States parties in 1995
extended indefinitely the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of
Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Under this Treaty, nuclear-weapon States agree
not to provide nuclear weapons to other countries and to pursue nuclear
disarmament; non-nuclear weapon States agree not to acquire nuclear
weapons. Concluded under UN auspices, the Treaty has been ratified by
over 170 countries.
Other treaties have been concluded to prohibit the development,
production and stockpiling of chemical weapons (1992) and
bacteriological weapons (1972); reduce conventional armed forces in
Europe (1990); ban nuclear weapons from the seabed and ocean floor
(1971) and outer space (1967); and ban or restrict other classes of
The United Nations proposed another disarmament agreement in 1972. The
100 nations that signed this Seabed Agreement agreed never to place
nuclear weapons on the ocean floor. Both the Soviet Union and the United
States were among the signers.
In 1996, States parties strengthened a Protocol restricting the use,
production and transfer of landmines – “silent killers” that slay or
maim some 20,000 people each year. According to the UN, there are some
110 million landmines in over 70 countries, and 2 million new landmines
are laid every year.
The subject of mine clearance is one of critical importance that has
recently taken center stage in the forum of pressing world issues. As
regards the work of the United Nations, the process of demining is
fundamental to the UN’s ability to deliver programs effectively in
war-torn countries or post-war environments, whether such undertakings
be related to peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance or rehabilitation.
Over the past seven years, the need for mine clearance has grown
significantly in a number of regions around the world. As a result, the
UN is increasingly called upon to operate mine clearance programs in
areas that are completely infested with landmines and unexploded
ordnance (UXO). Consequently, prior to any large deployment of personnel
or equipment to a given area, the UN must prepare for a safe working
environment by initiating preliminary mine clearance activities in
localized areas. Once this has been completed, a broader operation can
be accommodated to conduct mine clearance activities on a more
The clearance of areas for use by a supported nation is undertaken only
when specially mandated by the Security Council. It is standard
procedure for the UN to not only performs mine clearance but also to
assist a supported nation in the development of its own sustainable
clearance capacity. The UN program may include such topics as mine
awareness, mine marking, mine survey, mine clearance as well as
unexploded ordinance disposal. Additionally, the program’s overall
efforts may go beyond mine-specific issues to cover related areas, such
as management and logistics, training and support.
The UN may vary its approach to each situation as there are currently no
standardized templates or universal procedures established for mine
clearance activities world-wide.
Mine Clearance in the United Nations is presently divided into two areas
of responsibility :
which plans and advises on mine clearing activities carried out under
United Nations auspices as well as maintains contact with Governments
and organizations that participate in or contribute to these activities.
which serves as the focal point for coordinating all humanitarian mine
clearance and related activities.
These two units work together to ensure a seamless approach to United
Nations Mine Clearance Activities.
5.2 The Problem of Iraqi Military Arsenal
One of the last UN operations on eliminating all weapons was connected
with the investigation of Iraqi arsenal, as there were some data proving
that Iraq possesses very dangerous weapons that might be lethal to the
The nation of Iraq is relatively young; the country achieved
independence in 1932. Since then, Iraq has been almost perpetually at
war with its neighbors. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, leading
to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iraq has been under international
sanctions since the invasion and the United Nations refused to lift them
until it is convinced that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass
destruction. The United States and Britain threatened air strikes in
1998 over Iraq’s refusal to allow UN weapons inspectors’ free access to
all sites. The United States and its allies patrol a no-fly zone over
northern Iraq to protect Kurds from attack and in the south to protect
Almost all countries are concerned with Iraq’s unwillingness to allow UN
inspectors investigate its military arsenal. For example Swedish
diplomat Rolf Ekeus – who led the UN investigations from the cease-fire
through the summer of 1997 and headed to Baghdad for talks, said that
they had declared everything. Iraq stated that no documents existed in
Iraq because they had been destroyed. That was exploded totally, because
Iraq itself admitted in writing even that it had been lying. Cheating
systematically from when we started in 1991 up until this very date in
August of 1995.
5.2.1 Iraq/Kuwait conflict
To understand the essence of the conflict it is necessary to descry the
reasons of the conflict. Shortly after the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s
military dictator, Saddam Hussein, accused Kuwait of taking an unfair
share of oil revenues. In August 1990 he made the claim that Kuwait was
a part of Iraq and ordered his armies to invade and occupy Kuwait.
The Iraqi invasion alarmed President Bush and other world leaders for
three reasons. First, it was an act of aggression by a strong nation
against a weaker nation. (Iraq in 1990 had the fourth largest military
force in the world.) Second, the taking of Kuwait opened the way to an
Iraqi conquest of the world’s largest oil-producing nation, Saudi
Arabia. Third, the combination of Iraq’s military power and aggressive
actions would allow it to dominate the other countries of the Middle
To prevent further aggression, President Bush ordered 200,000 troops to
Saudi Arabia, followed later by an additional 300,000. “We have drawn a
line in the sand,” said the president, as he announced a defensive
effort called Operation Desert Shield. US troops were joined by other
forces from a UN-supported coalition of 28 nations including Great
Britain, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Egypt.
Members of the UN Security Council, including both the United States and
the Soviet Union, voted for a series of resolution concerning Iraq’s
aggression. One UN resolution demanded Iraq’s unconditional withdrawal
from Kuwait. Other resolutions placed an international embargo on trade
with Iraq and authorized UN members to use force if Iraqi troops did not
leave Kuwait by January 15, 1991. As the January deadline neared,
members of Congress debated whether or not to authorize the president to
send US troops into combat in the Persian Gulf. Both houses voted in
favor of the war resolution. [ ]
The Gulf War had far greater significance to the emerging post-cold war
world than simply reversing Iraqi aggression and restoring Kuwait. In
international terms, we tried to establish a model for the use of force.
First and foremost was the principle that aggression cannot pay. If we
dealt properly with Iraq, that should go a long way toward dissuading
future would-be aggressors. We also believed that the US should not go
it alone, that a multilateral approach was better. [ ]
5.2.2. UNIKOM Establishment
On 3 April 1991, the Security Council adopted resolution 687 (1991),
which set detailed conditions for a cease-fire and established the
machinery for ensuring implementation of those conditions. By resolution
687 (1991) the Council established a demilitarized zone along the border
between Iraq and Kuwait, to be monitored by a UN observer unit.
On 9 April 1991, the Security Council adopted resolution 689 (1991)
which approved the Secretary General’s plan for the establishment of the
United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM). The UNIKOM
advance party arrived in the area on April 1991. UNIKOM was established
to monitor the Khawr ‘Abd Allah and the DMZ set up along the border
between Iraq and Kuwait, and to observe any hostile or potentially
hostile action mounted from the territory of one State to the other.
The mandate was expanded in February 1993 by Security Council resolution
806 (1993), with the addition of an infantry battalion, to: take
physical action to prevent, or redress, small scale violations of the
DMZ and of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait; and problems arising
from the presence of Iraqi installations and citizens and their assets
in the DMZ on the Kuwaiti side of the border. Since the demarcation of
the Iraq-Kuwait boundary in May 1993 by the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait
Boundary Demarcation Commission, and the relocation of Iraqi citizens
found to be on the Kuwaiti side of the border back into Iraq, the
situation along the DMZ has been calm.
From the Security Council on down, nearly every UN diplomat, along with
officials from many other countries, will not stop repeating their
mantra: They want full and unfettered access to all sites in Iraq where
the inspection team suspects weapons of mass destruction are hidden. And
that is precisely what Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has refused to do,
for the seven years that the inspection regime has been in force.
President Clinton has managed to put the United States on both sides of
the diplomatic fence, repeatedly insisting America is making every
effort to avoid violence, but is ready to use U.S. aircraft and cruise
missiles to pound Iraq into submission if necessary.
The United States has assembled an armada in the Persian Gulf consisting
of 30,000 soldiers, sailors, pilots and Marines, 20 warships, and more
than 400 attack and support aircraft. Although it doesn’t compare to the
huge multinational force that went to war with Iraq in 1991, neither
does the coalition.
So far, only Britain and Canada have joined the United States in sending
forces to the area. Most of the nations that supported the attack in
1991 seem to feel that a military solution is too unsubtle a tool for
such a delicate diplomatic goal, and that the Iraqi people, already
suffering under UN sanctions, do not need to endure another baptism by
The demonstrations – never spontaneous and always state-organized –
quickly became tedious affairs, with the same posters, the same chants,
the same stunts.
What’s more, the UN Security Council more than doubled the amount of oil
Iraq can sell over six months in order to buy food, medicine and other
goods for its people suffering from devastating sanctions imposed when
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. At that time to put pressure on Iraqi
forces to withdraw, the United States and the UN voted to place an
embargo on the purchase of Iraqi oil. The resulting drop in oil supplies
quickly led to higher prices at gas stations all across the country.
The vote was unanimous in the 15-member body. The new program—which
raises the permitted oil revenue from $2 billion to $5.256 billion—does
not go into effect until Annan evaluates and approves an Iraqi plan for
how the goods should be distributed.
Iraq has expressed irritation over the plan and delayed the previous
versions of it, citing what it called infringements on its sovereignty.
UN officials insist on the right to strictly monitor the aid given under
the plan to make sure it reaches those who need it.
U.S. opinion polls show support for attacks on Iraq remains strong,
hovering in the 60 percent range, but a disastrous “town hall” meeting
in Ohio on Wednesday suggested it was equally fragile.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said families were not being
ordered to leave Israel and Kuwait, but that they were being allowed to
do so over concerns they may consider it prudent.
Iraqis have in the past threatened to attack both Israel and Kuwait in
the event that Iraq is attacked. The United States this weekend is
beefing up forces in Kuwait, and Israel has been urgently distributing
“The probability of Iraq resorting to the use of chemical or biological
weapons is remote, but it cannot be excluded,” Rubin said.
U.S. officials acknowledge that any attack on Iraq could hit hard at
As a result of UNICOM work the following data concerning Iraqi military
arsenal were received.
Missiles UN verified as destroyed UN believes may exist.
Missiles 817 2
Warheads 30 45
Launchers and launch pads 75 0
Munitions (filled and empty) 38,537 31,658
Precursor chemicals 3,000 tons 4,000 tons
Equipment for production 516 459
Although the Al Hakam factory, capable of producing anthrax and
botulinum toxin, was raised, these and other agents have not been
The events that took place December 16, 1998 shocked the mankind. US and
British forces launched a “strong, sustained” series of airstrikes
against Iraq early Thursday, targeting military and security
installations throughout the country. Pentagon sources said about 200
cruise missiles were fired from ships and manned fighter bombers in the
first wave of what will be an “open-ended’ attack, designed to degrade
Iraq’s ability to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Clinton accused Hussein of failing to live up to his commitment to allow
unrestricted access to UN weapons inspectors. This is how chief CNN
International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour reported from a rooftop
in downtown Baghdad: “An orange plume of smoke wafted over the city
after one of the loudest bursts.” Allied missiles struck more than 50
separate targets” during the first wave of bombing that began overnight
The military strikes – which came at night – followed a roughly 14-month
period during which Baghdad officials periodically said they would no
longer cooperate with the weapons inspectors. During that time, Baghdad
also repeatedly demanded that crippling international sanctions, imposed
after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait prior to the Gulf War, be lifted. The
most recent escalation in the ongoing weapons standoff came in early
November. At that time, Western powers threatened military strikes
against Iraq. The threat was removed on November 14, when Baghdad agreed
to cooperate fully with the weapons inspectors. But, US and British
officials warned Baghdad that future airstrikes could come without
warning should Iraqi leadership again refuse to cooperate with UNSCOM.
To back up their threat, Western powers left in place the military might
they had positioned in the Persian Gulf, within striking distance of
Iraq. It was that military weaponry that was used on Thursday to conduct
the strikes against Iraq. A stray missile from the allied attack on Iraq
crashed into a southwestern Iranian border city Khorramshahr causing no
casualties but prompting a strong diplomatic protest from Tehran.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton said the sites
hit during the first bombing wave included weapons of mass destruction
and barracks belonging to the Iraqi Republican Guard. US and British
officials have said they will continue bombing Baghdad until they have
achieved their goal which is not to destabilize the regime but to
decrease his capacity to threaten his neighbours.
World community’s response was not unanimous. Many Russian politicians
expressed their negative attitude to the bombing. Boris Yeltzin met with
Evgeni Primakov, Russian Prime-minister, Nikolai Bordyuzha, Security
Council secretary and Anatoly Kvashnin, General Staff commander where he
claimed that Russia would demand conducting the UN Security Council
summit to consider the situation in Iraq. Egor Stroyev, Federation
Council chairman said that the US and British bombardment of Iraq is a
strike not on Iraq but on public opinion and above all on UNO. Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov expressed his point of view saying that
military action ceasing would allow to renew the political process of
Iraqi settlement. Moreover, he said that the report was made at the time
when Iraqi leaders approved of their readiness to collaborate with
UNSCOM. Russian Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov will return to Moscow for
The only country that fully backed American and British bombing of Iraq
was Japan. Keidzo Obutti, the Prime Minister of this country has already
received acknowledgement from the US president. According to his opinion
Iraq didn’t fully cooperate with UN officials. Japan that is connected
with the USA by economic and military union as well as strategic
partnership always supports everything US does.
Tony Blair, the British prime minister is expected to be backed by the
majority of deputies to the House of Commons. He said the attack, named
Operation Desert Fox, was necessary because Hussein never intended to
abide by his pledge to give unconditional access to UN inspectors trying
to determine if Iraq has dismantled its biological, chemical and nuclear
weapons programs. From morning some protesters-natives from Arab
countries – Syria, Pakistan and Iraq – held demonstrations in Trafalgar
Square and near prime minister’s residence situated in Downing street,
10. British people also fully agree with their government decision.
Russian position is discussed by mass media. Moscow is said to have too
little assets to seriously affect the situation. Today “Times” wrote:
“Washington made it clear that the arguments of the country whose
economic situation fully depends on financial assistance of Western
countries won’t stop him.
Paris is reserved in its comments connected with the Iraqi bombing.
France always adhered to diplomatic crisis regulation.
NATO Ministers of Defense have gathered in Brussels to discuss their
position regarding the situation in the Persian Gulf. Nobody have
expressed their wish to participate in military actions.
The UN Security Council held a special debate Wednesday evening on the
military action. Diplomats said the meeting of the 15-nation council
would enable members to voice their views on the crisis, but no council
action was expected in the form of a resolution or other decision. UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed regret the standoff had not been
resolved diplomatically. Richard Butler, UNSCOM chairman, ordered UNSCOM
staff out of Baghdad. The entire staff was evacuated before dawn on
Iraqi officials said at least 25 people had died and 75 were wounded in
the Iraqi capital alone during two days of airstrikes.
The UNO, established to replace the existing League of Nations, faces
very difficult situation in connection with Iraqi bombardment. The
beginning of effective Iraqi resistance came with a rapidity which
surprised us all, and we were perhaps psychologically unprepared for the
sudden transition from peacemaking to fighting. Some say that Clinton
wanted to delay the floor debate and vote on whether he should be
impeached over his actions stemming from an affair with former White
House intern Monica Lewinski. Some questioned America’s moral right to
bomb Iraq, while others demanded that this time the US do the job
properly and get rid of Saddam Hussein.
But by doing so the USA and Britain have violated the UN Charter
according to which: “All Members shall refrain in their international
relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial
integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner
inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” [ ]
Many political leaders doubt the necessity to preserve the UNO as there
were drastic actions made by it. I think that the main reason for it is
that the USA is the main financial source of the UNO and the latter in
its turn is not willing to lose it.
In some way, my work can be continued as the events that happen in the
world change the situation greatly. The future will show whether the UNO
will be preserved or whether it’ll lose its unique character.
Basic Facts about the UN. Sales No E.95.1.31;
Bush G., Scowcroft B. Why We didn’t Remove Saddam. Times, June 21, 1998;
Contreras Joseph, Watson Russel. Saddam Old Tricks. News Week, June 15,
Documents of the United Nations Department of Public Information;
Dr. Jan Azud Csc. The Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and the UN.
Bratislava: Publishing House of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, 1970;
Inside UNSCOM: The Inspector. Transcript of interview with Charles
Duelfer, Deputy Chairman of the UN Special Commission to Iraq.;
Iraq Bars UN Inspection Teams From Searching For Weapons. Copyright
1998. The Associated Press.;
Malt Bill G. Parade of the Dead Babies. Times. August 7, 1998;
Nelan Bruce W. Selling the War Badly. Times, March 2, 1998;
Osmanczyk Edmund Jan. The Encyclopedia of the United Nations and
International Relations. 2nd ed. New York: Taylor and Francis, 1990;
Peiser A., Serber M. U.S. History and Government. New York: Asmo School
Publications, Inc., 1992;
Ritter Leaves Baghdad After Weapons Inspections. CNN News Release. March
Saddam Hussein Freezes co-operation with UN inspectors. CNN News
Release. August 5, 1998;
Scott Ritter Testifies In Senate. CNN News Release. September 4, 1998;
The UN Charter;
The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: Field Enterprises, Inc.
U.S. Reacts Sternly to Iraq’s Rebuff of Inspectors. CNN News Release,
December 9, 1998;
U.S., Britain Bombard Iraq. CNN News Release, December 16, 1998;
United Nations Iraq-Kuwait observation mission;
Wedeman Ben “Iraqis protest, but against what?”;
Western Forces Pound Baghdad in Second, “Stronger” Assault. CNN News
Release, December 17, 1998;
CHARTER OF THE UN
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in
our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth
of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations
large and small, and
to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the
obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law
can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger
AND FOR THESE ENDS
to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as
good neighbours, and
to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of
methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and
social advancement of all peoples,
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives
assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full
powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present
Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international
organization to be known as the United Nations.
The specialized agencies
HYPERLINK “http://www.unicc.org/ilo/” The International Labour
Organization (ILO) formulates policies and programs to improve working
conditions and employment opportunities, and defines international
labour standards as guidelines for Governments;
HYPERLINK “http://www.fao.org” The Food and Agriculture Organization of
the UN (FAO) works to raise levels of nutrition and standards of
living, to improve agricultural productivity and food security, and to
better the conditions of rural populations;
HYPERLINK “http://www.unesco.org” The UN Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) promotes education for all cultural
development, protection of the world’s natural and cultural heritage,
press freedom and communication;
HYPERLINK “http://www.who.ch” The World Health Organization (WHO)
coordinates programs aimed at solving health problems and the attainment
by all people of the highest possible level of health: it works in areas
such as immunization, health education and the provision of essential
HYPERLINK “http://www.worldbank.org” The World Bank group provides
loans and technical assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty
and advance sustainable economic growth;
HYPERLINK “http://www.imf.org/external” The International Monetary Fund
(IMF) facilitates international monetary cooperation and financial
stability, and provides a permanent forum for consultation, advice and
assistance on financial issues;
HYPERLINK “http://www.cam.org/~icao/” The International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) sets international standards necessary for the
safety, security, efficiency and regularity of air transport, and serves
as the medium for cooperation in all areas of civil aviation;
HYPERLINK “http://ibis.ib.upu.org” The Universal Postal Union (UPU)
establishes international regulations for the organization and
improvement of postal services, provides technical assistance and
promotes cooperation in postal matters;
HYPERLINK “http://www.itu.ch” The International Telecommunication Union
(ITU) fosters international cooperation for the improvement and use of
telecommunications of all kinds, coordinates usage of radio and TV
frequencies, promotes safety measures and conducts research;
HYPERLINK “http://www.wmo.ch” The World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) promotes scientific research on the atmosphere and on climate
change, and facilitates the global exchange of meteorological data and
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) works to improve
international shipping procedures, encourages the highest standards in
marine safety, and seeks to prevent marine pollution from ships;
HYPERLINK “http://www.uspto.gov/wipo.html” The World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO) promotes international protection of
intellectual property and fosters cooperation on copyrights, trademarks,
industrial designs and patents;
HYPERLINK “http://www.unicc.org/ifad/home.html” The International Fund
for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mobilizes financial resources for
better food production and nutrition among the poor in developing
HYPERLINK “http://www.unicc.org/ifad/home.html” The UN Industrial
Development Organization (UNIDO) promotes the industrial advancement of
developing countries through technical assistance, advisory services and
HYPERLINK “http://www.iaea.or.at/” The International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) , an autonomous intergovernmental organization under the
aegis of the UN, works for the safe and peaceful uses of atomic energy;
HYPERLINK “http://www.unicc.org/wto/Welcome.html” The UN and the World
Trade Organization (WTO) , the major entity overseeing international
trade, cooperate in assisting developing countries’ exports through the
Geneva-based International Trade Centre.
“I want an understanding that will help my mission and make it
United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Atta Annan, current Secretary General of the United Nations, is a
native of Ghana — at the time of his birth, still a British colony
called the Gold Coast. He was born April 8, 1938, in Kumasi, the
descendant of a prominent family of paramount chieftains of the Fante
people.. Annan began his education at a Ghanaian university, then
completed a degree in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.
He pursued graduate studies in Geneva at the Institut Universitaire de
Hautes Etudes Internationales. Again in the United States, Annan earned
an M.S. in management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
By 1971, Annan had joined the United Nations.
His experience includes positions as Assistant Secretary General for
Program Planning, Budget and Finance, head of human resources and
security coordinator, director of the budget, chief of personnel for the
High Commission for Refugees and administrative officer for the Economic
Commission for Africa.
He was named Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations on
March 1, 1993. In the peacekeeping post he did, however, take on a
number of delicate and complex jobs. He was sent to Iraq to negotiate
the release of hostages and the safe transport of a half-million Asian
workers who had become stranded in that area. As representative of the
UN Secretary General in Bosnia., he negotiated his way among the four
powers who had intervened in Bosnia — the United States, Britain,
France and Russia.
On the evening of December 13, 1996, Annan was named Secretary General
of the United Nations — the first black African to hold the job.
In the future, Annan will grapple with the problem of gaining support
for the United Nations from the organisation’s sceptics, especially the
Membership and Presidency of the Security Council in 1998
Month Presidency Membership Term Ends
January France Permanent Member
February Gabon 31 December 1999
March Gambia 31 December 1999
April Japan 31 December 1998
May Kenya 31 December 1998
June Portugal 31 December 1998
July Russian Federation Permanent Member
August Slovenia 31 December 1999
September Sweden 31 December 1998
October United Kingdom Permanent Member
November United States Permanent Member
December Bahrain 31 December 1999
Brazil 31 December 1999
China Permanent Member
Costa Rica 31 December 1998
The United Nations was established in the aftermath of a devastating war
to help stabilize international relations and give peace a more secure
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded five times to the United Nations
and its organizations.
Size: 437,072 sq. km
Location: Middle East
Population: 21.4 million
Leader: President Saddam Hussein
Labor force 4.4 million
Unemployment rate N/A
Inflation Rate N/A
Gross domestic product (total value of goods and services produced
annually) $41.1 billion (1995 est.)
Debt $50.0 billion (1989)
Defense spending N/A
Highways 45,554 km (1989)
President of Iraq
Blitzkrieg (Ger.) – lightning war, traced back to WW II
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