MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HIS EXCELLENCY MR JULIAN R. HUNTE
ON GENERAL ASSEMBLY ITEM 21
ON THE GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY CRISIS
14 APRIL 2004
the General Assembly turns its attention to the global
road safety crisis. Thanks to the World Health Organization
and the World Bank, it has the World Report on Road Traffic
Injury Prevention launched on World Health Day, 7 April
2004, to assist its deliberations. The report unravels
many of the inter-related issues that are impacted by
this growing problem, and provides invaluable insights
for shaping future initiatives of the General Assembly
and indeed, of the international community, in this critical
complete picture of death and injury on roads the world
over has certainly come more sharply into focus now that
the road safety crisis has been taken up by the General
Assembly. It is, no doubt, the realization that this crisis
is exacting significant human, social and economic costs
in developed and developing countries alike and the implications
of these costs for sustainable development, particularly
in the developing world, that has given impetus to United
Nations initiatives for global road safety.
we commemorated World Health Day on 7 April 2004, we were
alerted to the fact that "Road Safety is No Accident".
In short, road safety is too critical to be left to chance.
Safe roads come from initiatives we purposefully take,
at the national and international levels. The success
some countries have had in reducing road deaths and injury
bears this out.
is, in my view, instructive that with greater effort,
we can reduce the 1.2 million that die and upwards of
50 million that are injured in road accidents each year.
With appropriate and timely action, it should be possible
to address the concern brought to our attention by the
World Health Organization that if matters continue as
they are, by 2020 road traffic accidents could rank third
among causes of disease or injury, ahead of other health
problems such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
requires only commitment and action to take the targeted
initiatives for capacity building in developing countries
that could help reduce the significant numbers that die
or are injured in road accidents. Commitment and action
would also avert the tragedy and hardship of families
and communities that can affect the future of countries,
particularly in the developing world. It seems to me that
together, we can reduce the human costs as well as the
global economic costs of road crashes and injuries, estimated
by the World Health Organization to be about $518 billion
- $65 billion of which is borne by the developing world.
General Assembly now has an invaluable opportunity to
examine national and international standards for road
traffic safety, with a view to reinforcing and improving
these standards through national action and international
co-operation. Formulating effective strategies to address
the global road safety crisis requires partnerships -
between governments, the United Nations system, non-governmental
organizations, civil society and the private sector, lawmakers
and all road users - motorists and pedestrians alike.
This is our opportunity to continue to build them.
vehicles have significantly improved the lives of millions
of people around the world. We must all work together
to ensure that it continues to be a positive benefit.
The cost of not doing so is simply too high.