22 December 2008
General Assembly
GA/10803

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Plenary

73rd Meeting (PM)


ADOPTING CONSENSUS TEXT, GENERAL ASSEMBLY URGES MEMBER STATES, UNITED NATIONS


SYSTEM TO RAISE AWARENESS OF SICKLE–CELL ANAEMIA ON 19 JUNE EACH YEAR


‘Sickle-Cell Anaemia as a Public Health Problem’ Among Four Adopted Texts,

Assembly also Fills Vacancies on Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee


The General Assembly today, in a flurry of activity, elected members to both the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Committee for Programme and Coordination, and adopted by consensus four resolutions on combating malaria, promoting food security, cooperation with international organizations and recognizing sickle-cell anaemia as a public health problem.


In its first order of business, the Assembly elected for two-year terms beginning 1 January 2009, 17 members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the main United Nations organ responsible for planning and coordination between the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.


Acting on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly filled the four seats on the Committee among African States as follows: Central African Republic, Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa.  For the four seats among Asian States, India, Iran, Kazakhstan and Pakistan were elected.   Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine were elected to the three seats allocated to Eastern European States, while Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay were elected to the four seats among the Latin American and Caribbean States. Italy and Spain were elected for two of the five seats allocated among the Western European and other States.


The Assembly next elected five members to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for two-year terms of office beginning on 1 January 2009: Benin, Chile, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay. They join Georgia and Jamaica, whose terms of office will expire on 31 December 2009, as the Assembly’s seven-member contribution to the 31-member Organizational Committee.


In other action, the Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on “2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa”, welcoming the Global Malaria Action Plan that, for the first time, provided a comprehensive strategy for combating the disease in the short, medium and long term, and gave further impetus to internationally agreed targets of universal coverage of malaria interventions for all at-risk populations by 2010.


As part of its follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, the Assembly adopted a text on “agriculture development and food security”, which aimed, in part, at addressing the serious challenge posed by high and volatile food prices and the global food crisis to the fight against poverty and hunger.  By its terms, the Assembly reiterated the need to urgently address agricultural development and food security, in the context of national and international development policies. 


By a resolution on “cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie”, the Assembly requested the Secretaries-General of the respective organizations to encourage the holding of period meetings between representatives of the two bodies, with a view to furthering the exchange of information.  It also invited United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, along with the regional commissions, to help identify new synergies in the areas of poverty elimination, energy, sustainable development, education, training and the development of new information technologies.


By a resolution on the “recognition of sickle-cell anaemia as a public health problem”, the Assembly urged Member States and United Nations organizations to raise awareness of sickle-cell anaemia -- among the world’s foremost, and at times most lethal, genetic diseases -- at national and international levels on 19 June of each year.  It also encouraged relevant parties to strengthen health systems and primary health-care delivery.


In final business, the Assembly agreed to extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) until Tuesday, 23 December, and because of that, also postponed the date of the plenary recess to that date.


Speaking today was the representative of Morocco, introducing the draft resolution on the 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa.  The representatives of Indonesia and Congo also took the floor to introduce the draft resolutions on agriculture development and food security, and recognition of sickle-cell anaemia as a public health priority, respectively.


The representative of Canada spoke after action on the resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie.


The General Assembly will reconvene Tuesday, 23 December, at a time too be announced.


Background


The General Assembly met today to take up several matters, including the Decade to Roll Back Malaria, for which it considered a draft resolution on 2001‑2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa (document A/63/L.62).  The text welcomes the Global Malaria Action Plan that, for the first time, provided a comprehensive strategy for combating the disease in the short, medium and long term, and gave further impetus to internationally agreed targets of universal coverage of malaria interventions for all at-risk populations by 2010, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the disease.


The draft would have the Assembly call on the international community to support increased interventions in line with the Plan, the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, to ensure their effective implementation.  It would welcome the increased international funding for malaria interventions and research and development for preventative tools, and would urge malaria-endemic countries to work towards financial sustainability to increase -- to the extent possible -- domestic resource allocation to malaria control and to create favourable conditions for private sector involvement in improving access to good-quality malaria services.


Further, the Assembly would call on the international community to expand access to key products, such as affordable and effective anti-malarial combination treatments, durable insecticide-treated mosquito nets and insecticides.  Regional and intersectoral collaboration, both public and private, is encouraged at all levels and all relevant actors are urged to enhance the quality of malaria-related activities, through coordinated implementation.


For its consideration of the follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, the Assembly has before it a draft resolution on agriculture development and food security (document A/63/L.64).  That text was aimed, in part, at addressing the serious challenge posed by high and volatile food prices and the global food crisis to the fight against poverty and hunger, as well as to the efforts of developing countries to attain food security and achieve development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.


By the terms of the text, the Assembly would reiterate the need to urgently address agricultural development and food security, in the context of national and international development policies.  While emphasizing that the United Nations could play an effective role in building a global consensus on the issue, the resolution would have the Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) consider the issue in its sixty-fourth session, and would request the Secretary-General to submit a report on “Agriculture development and food security” during that same session and within the context of the aims of the resolution.


The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie (document A/63/L.59), which notes the desire of the two organizations to strengthen their ties in the political, economic, social and cultural fields.  In an effort to achieve those results, the Assembly would request the Secretaries-General of the respective organizations to encourage the holding of periodic meetings between representatives of the two bodies, with a view to furthering the exchange of information, the coordination of activities and the identification of new areas of cooperation.


At the same time, the Assembly would invite the specialized agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, along with the regional commissions, to work with the Organization of la Francophonie to identify new synergies in favour of development, especially in the areas of poverty elimination, energy, sustainable development, education, training and the development of new information technologies.  In welcoming the efforts made to date to strengthen ties and cooperation between the two organizations, it requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the present resolution to the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, for its consideration.


By the terms of another text before the Assembly -- a draft resolution on recognition of sickle-cell anaemia as a public health problem (document A/63/L.63) -- the Assembly would underline the need to raise awareness about one of the world’s foremost and, at times, lethal genetic diseases.  Aware of the need for greater international cooperation, the text would have the Assembly urge Member States and the organizations of the United Nations to raise awareness of the disease at national and international levels on 19 June of each year.


Furthermore, the Assembly would, by the text, encourage relevant parties to strengthen health systems and primary health-care delivery, and would urge Member States in which sickle-cell anaemia was a public health problem to establish national programmes and specialized centres for the treatment of the disease.  The text also includes a request to the Secretary-General to bring the resolution, if adopted, to the attention of all Members States and the United Nations system.


Also today, the Assembly is expected to elect 20 members to the Committee for Programme Coordination, and seven members to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission.


Election to Subsidiary Bodies


The General Assembly began its work today with the elections of 17 members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the main 34-member subsidiary organ of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council responsible for planning and coordination between the two bodies, for three-year terms of office beginning on 1 January 2009.


Acting on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly filled four seats on the Committee among African States as follows: Central African Republic, Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa.  For four seats among Asian States, India, Iran, Kazakhstan and Pakistan were elected.   Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine were elected to three seats allocated to Eastern European States, while Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Uruguay were elected to four seats among the Latin American and Caribbean States.  Italy and Spain were elected for two of five vacancies among the Western European and other States.


The vacancies in the Committee occurred as a result of the expiration on 31 December 2008 of the terms of offices of Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Pakistan, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland and Uruguay, as well as of one unfilled seat in the Western European and other States group.


The Assembly will be able to act on remaining vacancies for the group of Western European and other States when it receives nominations by the Economic and Social Council of States from that region.


Recalling its decision on 18 December 2008 to extend the terms of office of two members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, namely Georgia and Jamaica, the Assembly then turned to the five remaining seats allocated to it on the Committee.  Since the number of candidates endorsed by the group of African States, the group of Asian States and the group of Latin American and Caribbean States corresponded to the number of seats to be filled, the Assembly decided to elect Benin, Chile, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay as members of the Committee, to two-year terms beginning on 1 Jan 2009.


Under the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions that established the Peacebuilding Commission in 2005, the Organizational Committee sets the Commission’s agenda, including the establishment of the medium-term calendar for its activities, and the development of Integrated Peacebuilding Strategies for the countries on its agenda.  Those resolutions also decided that the Committee’s members would serve renewable two-year terms, as applicable.


The members of the Organizational Committee are distributed among the United Nations three main organs, as follows: seven members elected by the General Assembly; seven members selected by the Security Council; and seven members elected by the Economic and Social Council.


Action on Drafts


The Assembly took note of two letters contained in documents A/63/631 and A/63/632, one of which informed the Secretary-General of a decision to extend the terms of office of five members of the group of leading financial contributors to the Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee until 31 December 2010, namely Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden.  The other letter, by the Facilitator of the troop-contributing countries, informed the President of the General Assembly that the terms of office of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Pakistan would start on 1 January 2009 and run until 31 December 2010.


The Assembly then turned to the draft resolution on the 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa (document A/63/L.62), introduced by MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) on behalf of the African Group and all co-sponsors.  He said that malaria accounted for more than a million deaths every year, with 80 per cent of those deaths occurring in Africa, where malaria was the leading cause of mortality in children under 5.  That said, the disease knew no national boundaries, and concerted efforts from all Member States, relevant international organizations and the private sector were required to successfully combat the disease.


The implementation of the Roll Back Malaria Global Strategic Plan and the Global Malaria Action Plan, developed by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, were critical to achieving international targets on the disease, he said.  The African Group was presenting the current version of the annual resolution as part of its efforts to respond to the continent’s specific needs.  He drew attention to the need sustained and continued bilateral and multilateral support for combating the disease and said the draft would have the Assembly welcome the sustained increase in funding for malaria interventions, and the appointment of a Special Envoy on Malaria, as designated by the Secretary-General.


Continuing, he said the African Group called on the international community to work in a spirit of cooperation towards sustained support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Secretariat and other partners, with a view to strengthening health systems and scaling up malaria interventions.  He invited Member States to adopt the resolution without a vote, signalling a strong political commitment to roll back malaria by 2010 and to jointly work for its full eradication.


The Assembly then adopted the text by consensus.


Resuming its discussion of agenda item 107, “follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit”, the Assembly took up the draft resolution on agriculture development and food security (document A/63/L.64).


ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia), introducing the draft on behalf of co-sponsors, said the text would encourage the advancement of discussions that could build a global consensus in addressing agriculture development and food security.  However, Member States should not simply focus on stimulating an in-depth worldwide debate on the absolute need for food security, it should also focus on putting food security in a permanent and prominent place on the global development agenda.  As the Secretary-General had indicated, tackling the issue would require international leadership and coordination at the highest levels, and that had been the basis for the current resolution.  In closing, she called on Member States to adopt the text by consensus.


The draft resolution was adopted by the Assembly, without a vote.


The Assembly then took up the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie (document A/63/L.59) and adopted the text, without a vote.


Speaking after action, LOUIS SAINT-ARNAUD (Canada) said his delegation was very satisfied with the consensus adoption of the resolution, as it marked an important stage in the relationship between the United Nations and la Francophonie.  In particular, he noted the support of non-member States of the Organization of la Francophonie and the co-sponsorship of the resolution, which signalled the importance given to multilingualism and cultural diversity.  He said that 2008 had been an important year for la Francophonie in Canada, noting that the Quebec Summit had been held in October.  The collaboration between the United Nations and the Organization of la Francophonie over the upcoming months would help pave the way for the next Summit of la Francophonie, scheduled for 2010 in Madagascar.


The Assembly then took up the draft resolution on the recognition of sickle-cell anaemia as a public health priority (document A/63/L.63).  Introducing the draft, RAYMOND SEGE BALE ( Congo) said sickle-cell anaemia was relatively unknown by the general public and, often, only those who had been directly touched by it or those who were part of the medical community knew anything about the hereditary disease.  Yet, according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, sickle-cell anaemia affected nearly 100 million people throughout the world and, if not treated in its early stages, was often fatal.  Indeed, it was the cause of death of more than 50 per cent of those who suffered from the most lethal form of the disease.


Though that was, without doubt, a disquieting picture, it was apparently not disquieting enough to remove sickle-cell anaemia from its “medical ghetto” and draw the world’s attention to the disease, he said.  Adopting of the draft resolution would help to end the long isolation of the disease and, at the same time, bring the hope of future action to the 100 million people suffering from it.  Bold actions aimed at resolutely and effectively attacking the disease would help alleviate the suffering of those affected.  To that end, he welcomed the fact that 19 June of every year would be dedicated to raising public awareness of sickle-cell anaemia at national and international levels.


Continuing, he said the adoption of the draft would ensure the support of Member States and relevant partners for efforts to eliminate the disease, including through the strengthening of health care systems.  In closing, he made an oral revision to the title of the draft, which reflected the consensus reached during consultations, so that it read “a public health problem” instead of “a public health priority”.  He also made an oral revision to operative paragraph 2 of the French version of the text.


The Assembly then adopted the resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.


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