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United Nations Daily Highlights, 08-09-04
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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: firstname.lastname@example.orgARCHIVES
A PRESS CONFERENCE TO LAUNCH THE REPORT OF
THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS GAP TASK FORCE
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON,
AD MELKERT, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, TASK
and ROB VOS,
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT POLICY AND ANALYSIS DIVISION, DEP'T OF ECONOMIC AND
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Thursday, September 4, 2008
[There noon briefing will resume on Friday, September 5]
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON'S OPENING REMARKS
"Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am glad to see you all in good health.
I am grateful for this opportunity to brief you on a subject which will be a top priority this fall. I have with me Ad Melkert from UNDP and Rob Vos from DESA. These are the two entities co-chairing the Task Force which produced the report we are launching today.
As you know, the UN is currently preparing for a gathering of world leaders on 25 September to step up efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals. We have now passed the midpoint in the race to reach the Goals, and concerted action has never been more important.
I have called for a comprehensive account of progress on the global partnership for development, as embodied in Goal 8 of the MDGs. The result is the first report of the MDG Gap Task Force -- Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the MDGs. It is the product of a unique and collective effort by more than 20 UN entities as well as the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
This report sounds a strong alarm. The main message is that while there has been progress on several counts, delivery on commitments made by Member States has been deficient, and has fallen behind schedule. We are already in the second half of our contest against poverty. We are running out of time.
On Official Development Assistance, the Report highlights a large delivery gap in meeting commitments. Last year, there was a shortfall of 10 billion dollars. Total net aid from OECD/DAC countries amounted to only 0.28 per cent of their combined Gross National Income, as opposed to the UN target of 0.7 per cent. If we are to meet the 2010 target set at the G-8 Summit in 2005, ODA will have to increase by 18 billion dollars a year. Of that, 7.3 billion dollars would have to go to Africa.
On trade, the failure to conclude a development round constitutes the largest implementation gap. Even though aid for trade has increased in real terms, it has fallen as a percentage of ODA. The worlds poorest countries are still marginalized, and many have been hit hard by high food and energy prices. The report stresses that we need to move faster in reducing domestic and export subsidies on agriculture in developed countries, and in addressing other barriers to developing country exports and agricultural productivity growth.
On debt, there has been some progress. Fewer countries today are hampered in their development by massive debt. Debt relief has been or will be provided to 33 out of 41 eligible countries, cancelling more than 90 per cent of their external debt. However, debt reduction needs to be extended to countries beyond the Heavily Indebted Poor Country and the Multilateral Debt Relief initiatives. And mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure sustainability and fair debt workouts in the future.
In health, access to essential medicines has improved -- including those to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. But it is still far from adequate, and wide variations in pricing mean that essential medicines -- including antibiotics and painkillers -- are often unavailable to the poor. The report recommends eliminating national taxes and duties on essential medicines, as well as adopting generic substitution policies for essential medicines.
We also need to step up efforts in transferring new technologies for development, including for agriculture, infrastructure, and access to energy. The report highlights the need to transfer technology to address climate change, so as to protect the most vulnerable.
As these gaps show us, a shift in both quantity and quality is needed to fulfill the promise of halving extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education and gender parity, and improving the health and living conditions of millions of people. The international community has a responsibility to live up to its commitments.
We have only seven years until the deadline. The High-level Event on 25 September will provide an opportunity to start bridging the gaps. We aim to make it a turning point -- a forum for world leaders to review progress and commit to concrete efforts, resources and mechanisms. By asking world leaders to announce their specific plans and proposals, the High-level Event should prepare the ground for a decisive conference on financing for development in Doha in November.
As Chair of the Task Force that produced this years report, Mr. Melkert will now add his observations. Then he and Mr. Vos would be pleased to answer your questions.
Finally, in closing, allow me to extend sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the plane crash earlier this week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet again, we have seen the dangers faced by UN staff and international aid workers who work tirelessly under difficult conditions to support people in need throughout the world. At this time of grief I know our thoughts are with the families, colleagues and others touched by this terrible loss.
Thank you very much."
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE UN SYSTEM
UNITED NATIONS CONFIRMS REMAINS OF 17 FOUND AT PLANE CRASH SITE IN DR CONGO
The United Nations is now able to confirm that the remains of 17 people have been located in the vicinity of the site of the plane crash outside the town of Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The process of positive identification of the remains will now be undertaken. Four Congolese and one Canadian employees of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are among the victims. Also among the dead are one French citizen and one UN volunteer from India, both of whom worked for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Alan Doss, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for the DRC, said in a statement that he is deeply saddened by the death of all the passengers onboard the crashed plane. In addition to the UN staff, three employees of the Belgium office of Handicap International and 1 staff member of the Dutch chapter of Doctors Without Borders also died in the crash.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON GLOBAL COUNTER-TERRORISM STRATEGY
Addressing the General Assembly meeting on the
United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy today, the Secretary-General stressed that although much progress has been made since the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy two years ago, it is the fundamental duty of the U.N. and member states to intensify efforts to implement the strategy across the board.
Reflecting on witnessing the aftermath of the 18 December in Algiers, the Secretary-General also underscored that terrorism is a global and multilateral cooperation is vital to fight it.
He urged all member states to take multilateral counter-terrorism cooperation even further guided by the three main principles: innovative development of tools, multilateral counter-terrorism efforts in partnership with regional and sub-regional organizations and with civil society, and counter-terrorism efforts at the international level which leverage comparative strengths.
Adding that counter-terrorism has been among his top priorities as Secretary-General, Ban invited all members to participate in the symposium on supporting victims of terrorism which he will convene, next week.
BAN KI-MOON ADDS HIS VOICE TO TRIBUTE TO LATE ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT
The Secretary-General, in his remarks at the General Assembly Tribute to the late President of Zambia, Mr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, said as Vice-President and later President, Mr. Mwanawasa was at the forefront of Zambian politics at a time of exceptional challenge and change in his country and in the southern African region as a whole.
He also said he profoundly admired Mr. Mwanawasa's contribution as Chair of the SADC [South African Development Community], in particular in leading the efforts of the international community to restore democracy in Zimbabwe.
DARFUR: FOOD RIOT IN REFUGEE CAMP LEADS TO DEATH AND INJURY
A riot in a refugee camp in Darfur led to the death of one refugee and the injury of six other persons, including three policemen, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release issued yesterday. The incident occurred at the refugee camp in Um Shalaya, 70 km southeast of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State, hosting primarily Chadian refugees.
The riot broke out around 10:00 AM Tuesday, September 2, when hundreds of stick-bearing and shouting women angrily demonstrated against a temporary food reduction due to logistical problems.
The refugee agency said the reduction in the amount of sorghum, a staple that is widely consumed in both Chad and Sudan, was due to the inability to safely transport food from El Geneina to Um Shalaya camp. The food riot comes against a backdrop of repeated attacks on humanitarian convoys throughout Darfur.
There are approximately 6,600 refugees in Um Shalaya where new asylum seekers trickle in every month after fleeing violence in their home areas in eastern Chad. In Darfur, there are an estimated 50,000 mostly Chadian refugees who are mainly settled along the border areas.
Meanwhile, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said it received a report indicating that a World Food Programme (WFP) Mobile Truck was carjacked on Wednesday in the vicinity of Moraya, 55 kilometers northwest of Nyala in South Darfur. According to the tracking device, the vehicle was heading into the general direction of Jebel Marra.. The drivers onboard were robbed of their money and mobile phones and the whereabouts of the WFP staff members and the vehicle are unknown.
In addition, reports received by UNAMID indicated that also on Wednesday, three UNICEF vehicles were ambushed by unknown gunmen while returning from a visit at Yara, 50 kilometers north of Nyala. Members of the team including a delegation from Khartoum together with UNICEF Head of office- Nyala. A UNAMID patrol was deployed to rescue the members. Two of the vehicles were rescued while the third managed to reach Nyala with its passengers having been looted of their properties left unharmed.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO ADOPT STATEMENTS ON SOMALIA AND CYPRUS
The Security Council is scheduled to meet this afternoon to adopt Presidential Statements welcoming both the Djibouti Agreement on Somalia and the launch of full-fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
WORLD TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT REPORT NOTES BLEAK ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
In its Trade and Development report, released today, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says that a sharp and prolonged downturn of the world economy is likely, due to uncertainty and instability in financial, currency and commodity markets, as well as the threat of tighter monetary policies in some major developed countries.
World output is expected to grow by around three per cent in 2008, almost one percentage point less than last year, UNCTAD says.
The short-term outlook is better for the developing world, where growth could exceed six per cent, but even that is threatened by fallout from the recession in the developed world.
Many developing countries are also highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of the commodities that they export. The current system of global financial governance is ineffective in preventing recurrent speculative activities that ultimately destabilize the entire system, say UNCTAD economists, who recommend that Governments adopt stricter regulatory measures in this area.
NEW PROGRAMME ALLOWS COMPUTER USERS VISIT ENVIRONMENTAL HOTSPOTS
The U.N. Environment Programme has teamed up with Google Earth to create a new computer service that allows users to virtually visit nearly 200 of the worlds most dramatic environmental hotspots and witness firsthand in 3-D the impacts of climate change and other destructive human activities.
Some of the highlights include before and after images of glaciers in Greenland and Alaska, the appearance of road networks in the remote rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the dramatic expansion of many West African cities.
UNITED NATIONS STEPS UP AID TO VICTIMS OF STORMS IN HAITI
UNICEF is stepping up its assistance to some 15,000 Haitians affected by three successive storms in recent weeks. The ensuing winds and heavy rains caused major all across the country. In response, UNICEF and the World Food Programme are delivering 15,000 blankets, 5,000 hygiene kits, 7.5 tons of food and 60,000 liters of potable water are being shipped to the town of Gonaives.
UNICEF expects the assistance to increase in the coming days. Also, the UN Country Team will soon launch an appeal for funding. Meanwhile, UN peacekeepers are airlifting those who were forced to climb onto their rooftops to escape the flooding. It is feared that the water, which is becoming stagnant, will increase the risk of waterborne diseases.
AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTERS TO INTRODUCE NEW MENINGITIS VACCINE
Health Ministers from countries of the African Meningitis Belt today
committed themselves to introduce a highly promising candidate meningitis vaccine. The vaccine is designed to prevent periodic epidemics of the deadly disease in these countries.
The Ministers were meeting at the World Health Organization's 58th Regional Committee for Africa, which is being held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
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