Published: Wednesday 15 January 1997

"I am eager to begin," marked Kofi Annan's first words as he took over the mantle of UN Secretary-General from Boutros Boutros Ghali. A top UN official from Ghana, Annan was a near-unanimous choice of the 15-member Security Council members except for France, which wanted a French-speaking African for the top post. However, France lifted its veto later on and thereby cleared the way for Annan's election. Annan is yet to be approved by the General Assembly but this seems to be a mere formality.

The UN's World Intellectual Property Organization began a three-week conference on December 2 at Geneva, in a bid to extend the copyrights law onto the Internet. Delegates at the 160-nation conference will make possible changes to the copyright law, for the first time in 35 years, and also work on three treaties to protect literary and artistic works, the rights of performers and producers of audio cassettes and producers of data bases. With the Internet, at the click of the computer mouse, all works of art and music can easily be downloaded for public consumption, with no protection whatsoever for their creators.

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