Gender equality and dialogue among civilizations to be highlighted: Assembly President

General Assembly President Sheika Haya

21 December 2006 – The United Nations General Assembly will next year discuss gender equality as a key element of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of time-bound targets aimed at slashing poverty and other global ills, as well as holding a separate debate on relations between peoples of different beliefs, the body’s president said today.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the main part of the Assembly’s 61st session, President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said it had been a “busy and productive period,” and she had worked with Member States and Secretary-General Kofi Annan to “build bridges and trust,” something she would follow with his successor.

“I will continue to do so, when Secretary-General Designate Ban Ki-Moon takes office in the New Year… We have made progress on many areas of our common agenda; we had important debates on Security Council reform and General Assembly revitalization; and, we adopted two important international conventions,” she said.

“…Likewise, when we are united in partnership we can achieve much more for each other. For example, at the informal thematic debate on development, the Islamic Development Bank announced the creation of a $10 billion poverty eradication fund, to which even the poorest developing countries will contribute,” she added.

Turning to some of the key issues for next year, Sheikha Haya said there would be two more thematic debates, this time focused on gender equality and “dialogue among civilizations,” and she called on the press to play its role in supporting tolerance among peoples of different cultures and religious beliefs.

“Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women is an integral aspect of achieving the MDGs. In March next year, the General Assembly will hold its second informal thematic debate, on the ‘promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women’,” she said, referring to the goals agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.

“I also intend to hold a third informal thematic debate, on ‘dialogue among civilizations’. On this issue, I believe that the press have a particular responsibility in the way that they represent other peoples and cultures. You can also play an important role in supporting tolerance and mutual respect.”

In a related development and continuing the Assembly’s work yesterday, the 192-member body adopted a resolution stressing the importance of cooperative efforts by all countries to promote economic development for all, as expressed in the Millennium Declaration.

Adopting a text entitled “Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence,” the Assembly reaffirmed the need for the UN to play a fundamental role in promoting international cooperation for development, while resolving to strengthen coordination within the Organization in order to facilitate growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.

This text was among more than 40 development-related resolutions adopted after being put forward by the Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

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