ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN GENEVA, 16-18 MAY
On Wednesday, 16 May, Secretary-General Kofi Annan departed Moscow to Geneva, stopping overnight in Amsterdam.
On Thursday he addressed the World Health Assembly, an annual event hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which this year was attended by
125 Ministers of Health. He focused his remarks on the fight against HIV/AIDS which, he said, needs two things: leadership and resources. On resources, he sketched out his proposal for a Global AIDS and Health Fund, which he said would be governed by an independent Board representing all significant stakeholders, including governments of developing countries. The Secretariat would be kept small, he assured the Ministers, and there would also be an advisory board made up of the @best international experts@.
Broad policies would be set by the Board, he explained, which would use the money to support national programmes and strategies, decided by national leaders. The Board would insist on transparency and accountability to ensure that the money reached the people who need it most.
ALet us rise above turf battles and doctrinal disputes@, he said. AThe battle against AIDS is too important for us to risk side-tracking it by championing one institution or project at the expense of others. Only results should count.@ (See SG/SM/7808.)
WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland and Executive Director of UNAIDS Peter Piot also addressed the session.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General, Ms. Brundtland and Mr. Piot had an impromptu meeting with United States Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson for a review of the United States position on AIDS and of political support generally for the Fund.
The Secretary-General then invited Brundtland and Piot back to his office for a strategy session on the Fund, which he hopes to present in detail to the United Nations General Assembly's special session on AIDS in June.
The Secretary-General then had a brief press encounter. Asked about the Global Fund, he said that he did not call it a United Nations Fund on purpose, Abecause I want it to attract others to join the fight.@ It will be open to donor governments, he explained, but also to the private sector, foundations and individuals.
WHO then organized a buffet lunch for the Ministers of Health, at which a number of Ministers from different regions of the world each gave a brief commentary on the AIDS issue, to which the Secretary-General occasionally responded. At one point, he urged the Ministers to raise the political profile of the disease by bringing it up in cabinet meetings and urging their Presidents or Prime Ministers to lead.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on Friday, 18 May.
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