GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL CONVENE HIV/AIDS SPECIAL SESSION 25-27 JUNE 2001 TO SECURE GLOBAL COMMITMENT TO COMBAT EPIDEMIC20001103
Also Praises Cooperation with Organization of American States, Amends Rules of Procedure Concerning General Assemblys Opening Day
The General Assembly this morning, as a matter of urgency, decided to convene a special session of the General Assembly from 25 to 27 June 2001 to address the problem of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and secure a global commitment to combat the epidemic.
Acting without a vote on a 97-Power resolution, the Assembly decided the special session would discuss, among other issues, HIV/AIDS in Africa, international funding and cooperation, the social and economic impact of the epidemic, human rights and AIDS, gender-specific impacts of AIDS, prevention, access to care and treatment, scientific research and vaccine development.
In order to facilitate preparations, the Assembly also requested the Secretary-General to present a timely and comprehensive report describing the status of the epidemic and the response, including its developmental impact, long- term social and economic manifestations, the best practices in prevention and care, and the identification of major gaps and challenges.
Further, the Assembly stressed the importance of the full and active participation of all States, including least developed countries, in the preparatory consultations in order to provide substantive input to the special session. It invited governments to make appropriate voluntary contributions to a trust fund to be established by the Secretary-General for that purpose.
In other action this morning, the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), introduced by the representative of Canada, by which it recommended that a general meeting of representatives of the United Nations system and of the OAS be held in 2001 for the continued review and appraisal of cooperation programmes and of other matters to be mutually decided on.
Also acting without a vote, the Assembly decided to amend rule 1 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly to read: The General Assembly shall meet every year in regular session commencing on the Tuesday following the second Monday in September. It further decided that that amendment would take effectGeneral Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9809 51st Meeting (AM) 3 November 2000
from 2001 and that, therefore, for that year, the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly would close on Monday, 10 September 2001.
Statements on HIV/AIDS were made by the representatives of Haiti, Ethiopia, Japan, Monaco, Malaysia, Botswana, Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Forum), China, Saint Kitts and Nevis (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Fiji, as well as the observer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Concerning the OAS, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan and Brazil made statements.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 6 November, to consider the first report of the Credentials Committee and the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9809 51st Meeting (AM) 3 November 2000
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its consideration of the problem of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in all its aspects. It was also expected to take up agenda items on strengthening the United Nations system and cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS).
A draft resolution on the review of the problem of HIV/AIDS in all its aspects (document A/55/L.13) is sponsored by Austria, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Ukraine. By the terms of the resolution, the General Assembly would decide to convene, as a matter of urgency, a special session of the General Assembly, from 25 to 27 June 2001, to review and address the problem of HIV/AIDS in all its aspects, as well as to secure a global commitment to enhance coordination and intensification of national, regional and international efforts to combat it in a comprehensive manner. It would also decide to invite States members of the specialized agencies that are not members of the United Nations to participate in the work of the special session in the capacity of observers.
It would further decide that the special session would discuss, among other issues, topics such as HIV/AIDS in Africa, international funding and cooperation, the social and economic impact of the epidemic, human rights and AIDS, gender-specific impacts of AIDS, prevention, access to care and treatment, scientific research and vaccine development. The General Assembly would also decide to convene, within the framework for the special session, open-ended informal consultations of the plenary to undertake preparations for the special session, including the elaboration of a draft declaration.
By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly would decide to include in the agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled Review of the problem of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in all its aspects. Further to the resolution, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to make the necessary administrative arrangements towards convening the special session and also request him to make available all necessary documentation in a timely manner for the special session. The Secretary-General would also be requested to, with the support of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, provide substantive input to the preparatory process.
The General Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to present a comprehensive report describing, among other things, both the status of the epidemic and the status and level of national, regional and international response and cooperation. He would also be requested to ensure an effective and coordinated system-wide response to preparation for the special session and to carry out a comprehensive public information programme to raise global HIV/AIDS awareness while also building broad international support for the special session and its goals.
The Secretary-General would also be requested to bring the present resolution to the attention of all governments, the relevant specialized agencies and programmes of the United Nations, international financial and trade organizations and other relevant civil society actors, as well as the business sector, including pharmaceutical companies. The resolution would have the Assembly stress the importance of the full and active participation of all States, including least developed countries, in the preparatory consultations in order to provide substantive input to the special session and invite governments to make appropriate voluntary contributions to a trust fund to be established by the Secretary-General for that purpose, and would request the Secretary-General to make every effort to ensure mobilization of resources to the fund.
The Assembly also had before it a report by the Secretary-General (document A/55/184) on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The present report had been prepared pursuant to paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 53/9 of 22 October 1998 and outlined the measures taken to implement the resolution.
Part II of the report discusses the implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/9. Section A discusses joint United Nations and Organization of American States activities. Section B discusses consultations and exchange of information. In response to a request by the Department of Political Affairs, the heads of agencies, programmes, departments and offices of the United Nations system supplied information on their relevant activities from September 1998 until 15 June 2000. Section C of the report discusses the information received from the United Nations system. The United Nations Secretariat reported on activities within the Department for Disarmament Affairs, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Yearbook of the United Nations.
Other agencies, programmes, departments and offices submitting reports were the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Bank, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
A draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States (L.21) is sponsored by Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela. By the terms of the text, the Assembly would recommend that a general meeting of representatives of the United Nations system and of the OAS be held in 2001 for the continued review and appraisal of cooperation programmes and of other matters to be mutually decided on.
The Assembly would also emphasize that the cooperation between the United Nations and the OAS should be undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates, scope and composition, and be suited to each specific situation in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly a report on the implementation of the present resolution and would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-seventh session the item entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States".
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution, submitted by its President, on Amendment to rule 1 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly (document A/55/L.19) by the terms of which the Assembly would decide to amend rule 1 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly to read: The General Assembly shall meet every year in regular session commencing on the Tuesday following the second Monday in September. The Assembly would also decide that this amendment shall take effect as from the year 2001 and that, therefore, for that year, the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly shall close on Monday, 10 September 2001.
PIERRE LELONG (Haiti) said HIV/AIDS was an alarming pandemic, decimating economic and human resources and jeopardizing the future. HIV/AIDS was killing those on whom society was relying to work in the factories and gather the harvest, as President Mandela had said. Nobody would have thought 20 years ago that HIV/AIDS would become such a serious worldwide problem. HIV/AIDS was destroying the population of his country. According to collected data, it was rampant, with 5 per cent of the population being sero-positive; 10 per cent of the urban population and 4 percent of the rural population.
He said the man/woman ratio was one to one and 80 per cent of young sero- positive adults had been infected during their adolescence. Unprotected sexual relationships were the main course of infection. Young women often thought there was no danger. One of the guidelines of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) programme was to allow women to protect themselves. HIV/AIDS was not just a health problem; it was a social and educational obstacle that was extremely delicate, exacerbated by poverty. HIV/AIDS affected economic development. Each hour, six people in his country were infected and 150,000 Haitian children would become orphans by the end of the year.
He said his country had adopted initiatives in the area of education of women, child prostitution, drugs and so forth. The role of the media had been stressed, and educational programmes had been launched. Educational centres had been set up, and condoms were distributed. Public places, like churches and schools, had programmes to raise consciousness. Research was under way with Brazil and Trinidad to develop a vaccine. Haiti, ravaged by the AIDS and poverty, needed the international community to support its efforts in battling the scourge, he said.
ABDULMEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said that since the time of its occurrence, the spread of HIV/AIDS had been dramatic, especially in Africa. That meant that the demographic, economic and social effects, as well as the national security impact of AIDS in Africa, were enormous. AIDS affected every social group in African society. It did not discriminate, but the young, the skilled manpower of society, were the most frequent victims. The disease was posing a serious threat to present and future generations and, thus, to the very survival of humanity.
In Ethiopia, efforts to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS through public awareness campaigns had been made since the mid-1980s, he said. In 1987, a National AIDS Control Programme was established within the Ministry of Health. To complement the effort of the Programme, some civic groups had undertaken activities to raise awareness on the effects of AIDS. However, not enough effort had been put into those initiatives. Recognizing that reality, the current Government had formulated a new comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy aimed at creating a conducive environment for enhanced partnership between the government, civil society and the international community to fight the disease. For those efforts to succeed, international support and assistance were indispensable.
In Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was the main cause of death, he added. The socio-economic impact of the situation was widespread and devastating beyond the concerns of health and its immediate ramifications. Recent studies by UNAIDS, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other United Nations agencies underscored the wider development implications of HIV/AIDS, and how it was reversing hard won social and economic gains. Life expectancy, which had reached beyond 60 years in some African countries, was predicted to drop to less than 40 years of age by the year 2010. He hoped that the special session would provide an opportunity for the international community to address the challenge posed by HIV/AIDS at large, and in Africa in particular.
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) observed that the spread of HIV/AIDS had defied every prediction. Now, with more than 16 million people dead and 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS, the epidemic threatened human security in many parts of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa had been devastated, because more than 10 per cent of the adult population in 16 countries was infected. In addition, the lives of the families and more than 11 million AIDS orphans were also its victims. Furthermore, in many developing countries the scourge of AIDS was negating the achievements made in social and economic development. He added that HIV/AIDS took a particularly heavy toll among the poor.
He pointed to the Okinawa Group of 8 industrial countries Summit in July as an example of the growing attention being devoted to the HIV/AIDS crisis. The developed countries at the meeting committed to working together with all relevant partners to achieve the critical targets set by the United Nations, including a 25 per cent reduction in the number of HIV/AIDS-infected young people by 2010. His Government gave high priority in its official development assistance (ODA) medium-term policy to assistance in the field of HIV/AIDS and targeted $3 billion to be disbursed in the next five years. Japan had previously given attention to the issue of HIV/AIDS at the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) in October 1998.
Continuing, he said it was useful for developing countries to share their experiences and to learn from each other. To that end, the Government of Japan had been promoting South-South cooperation on HIV/AIDS, as demonstrated in a seminar it co-sponsored with UNAIDS, currently taking place in Tokyo. His country supported the holding of the special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS in June 2001, urging participants to join in the process of galvanizing governments, civil society, the private section, United Nations organizations and people affected by AIDS. In closing, Japan looked forward to participating actively in the special session, as well as the process leading up to it.
JACQUES L. BOISSON (Monaco) said that, over the last decade, numerous African nations had established democracy, introduced economic reforms, developed their markets, stabilized their currencies. Yet, those improvements were gravely compromised by the AIDS pandemic. AIDS left millions of orphans in its wake, threatened the recent and still fragile stability in certain regions, and even threatened to amplify the already dramatic consequences of certain conflicts. The fight against AIDS in Africa was also the fight for international peace and security. The situation was equally alarming in Eastern Europe, a region in which, unfortunately, there was a significant increase in the number of intravenous, particularly among intravenous drug users.
He welcomed the initiative of France, which had organized last April a meeting with the aim of encouraging initiatives to provide access to treatment for people infected by HIV in the developing world. The convening of a conference on access to medicines would supplement and strengthen that initiative. The international community needed to act, as a matter of urgency. Nothing significant could be achieved without the participation of the pharmaceutical companies, which could provide greater access to drugs, in coordination with the international community. It was also necessary to see a relaxation in patenting. The international community must cooperate with those companies, with the aim of establishing a realistic time frame for the development and distribution of medications.
MOHAMAD YUSOF AHMAD (Malaysia) said that AIDS was an impoverishing disease, as it struck at the very people who could develop a country. It was also altering the global economic environment, as the countries that were suffering the most from it became poorer, since they had the least capacity to provide treatment for those who became infected. The net result was that the gap between rich and poor, the North and South, became even wider. There was, therefore, a need for the wealthier developed countries -- out of enlightened self-interest if not pure altruism -- to make available more resources in ameliorating the effects of the diseases in developing countries. This could be done through economic aid, to make the necessary drugs available. The giant pharmaceutical companies could and should also play a part, by reducing the price or allowing compulsory licensing of those life-saving drugs.
HIV/AIDS was also a gender problem, he continued, as the number of women infected by the disease was growing faster than that of men. The international community needed to focus on the special needs of women in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment. The education, testing, counseling care and treatment designed to address the specific needs of women and girls must be enhanced. There must be affordable, enhanced medical intervention aimed at lessening the risk factors associated with mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and which addressed the needs of mothers, as well as their newborn.
Like many other countries, Malaysia had not been spared from the problem of HIV/AIDS, he continued. While there was already a move to face the epidemic squarely at the highest levels, the HIV/AIDS threat was still invisible to the majority of the Malaysian public. Many were still unable to accept that HIV/AIDS was a disease among them that required urgent attention. He was also concerned over: the rising trend of mother-to-child transmission, infection among young people; drug use and HIV infection, the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, the accessibility and affordability of treatment, with anti-retroviral drugs and the potential impact and cost of inadequate interventions. Malaysia had taken the initiative in calling for an Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on HIV/AIDS, which would take place in Brunei Darussalam in 2001.
LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana) said that what used to be a personal problem, talked about in hushed voices in close-knit family circles, was now being discussed in national and international forums. What used to be a lone statement at a lone funeral by a lone village chief, in a lone village decrying the rate at which the young were succumbing to HIV/AIDS and lamenting the fact that babies and the elderly would be left alone in the village, was now a global cry. It was sad that Africa, the cradle of the human race, faced a grim future unless effective measures were taken to lower the incidence and to mitigate the impacts of the scourge.
It was even more disheartening that the southern cone of the continent was most affected, with at least one adult in five living with the virus, he continued. The southern African region had just emerged from decades old conflicts and was on the verge of an economic and social revival. That ideal was very distant now. The region's ambitious plans and projects, spearheaded by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), were being undermined by the pandemic.
The same determination, drive and purposefulness that helped Botswana build its nationhood and economy from scratch after independence was being harnessed to fight HIV/AIDS, he said. One of the major strategies in fighting HIV/AIDS had been the establishment of a Multi-Sectoral National Council, which was chaired by the President of Botswana himself. That demonstrated the seriousness with which the problem was treated. At the executive level, there was a National Aids Co-ordinating Agency headed by a senior official to implement anti-HIV/AIDS programmes. The focus was on risk and vulnerability reduction and mitigation of socio-economic impacts. Mitigation of the impacts was done primarily through Community Based Care Programmes and clinical management of opportunistic infections, while risk and vulnerability reduction was through community education.
JOUN-YUNG SUN (Republic of Korea) said it was noteworthy that 95 per cent of the AIDS-infected were living in developing countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan region. The accelerated pace of globalization could contribute to an uncontrolled spread of the disease. AIDS had developed into a problem threatening social security, exacerbating inequalities and undermining sustainable development.
In addressing the problem, he said, two major challenges -- scientific and financial -- had to be overcome. The world was in desperate need of a vaccine against HIV/AIDS. The bulk of available resources, however, had been diverted to research on treatment. On the other hand, beating back the epidemic in Africa alone would cost $3 billion, and donor contributions were far below the levels needed to cover costs. The multi-faceted challenges could only be tackled properly through a genuine partnership between the developed and developing countries, as well as between the public and private sectors.
HIV/AIDS had now become a top priority of the United Nations system, he said. The United Nations had taken the lead in combating the scourge by, among other things, raising public awareness and addressing its socio-economic and development implications. He hoped that UNAIDS would continue to strengthen its coordinating role in close collaboration with governmental and non-governmental partners. His country had provided assistance to developing countries by sharing its experiences in addressing problems associated with HIV/AIDS and in the promotion of reproductive health care.
PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Forum, said that the scale and speed of the disease had made it a major development issue, indeed the most pressing one for countries that suffered its effects most acutely. In those countries where it was most rife, it threatened to undermine and reverse many of the development gains of the last four decades. Above all, the epidemic had produced a humanitarian disaster of frightening proportions. Nearly 36 million people were currently living with the disease and another 19 million were thought to have died from it. There were more than 13 million AIDS orphans at the start of the year, many of whom were themselves infected. The impact of HIV/AIDS was not the exclusive concern of any one community, country or region.
The success of next year's special session would be crucial in reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, he said. It must be focused to produce ambitious, but achievable goals and concrete proposals for action. Financial and technical resources must be freed to help bolster national capacities to combat the disease. Health systems must be strengthened to prevent its spread and treat its victims, the access of victims in developing countries to affordable and effective medicines must be improved.
Damage control was not enough, he said. With HIV/AIDS, as with all diseases, prevention was infinitely preferable to cure. There was considerable evidence to suggest that political will and early preventative measures were essential to slow the exponential growth of the disease. Public education campaigns should be vigorously pursued and public debate should be open and informed. In addition, access to condoms, disposable needles and detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections should be universal.
HUANG XUEQI (China) said the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS was a global public health and social problem, with more than 33 million people infected. It had caused heavy social burdens in many developing countries, triggering serious crises in Africa, where the gains of economic development could be wiped out if the international community did not take immediate action. China noted that no country had escaped HIV/AIDS, which was the common enemy of humanity.
He urged the international community not to feel helpless before the devastation of AIDS, because there were international organizations, particularly UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO), which had taken significant action to combat the pandemic. The global spread of HIV/AIDS required the mobilization of international forces to work together to battle the disease. The Government of China called for the personal involvement of government leaders in mobilizing at the grass-roots level.
It was necessary, he continued, to take measures to resolve the problem. They included political commitment, financial support and the lowering of drug prices for the victims of HIV/AIDS. The decision to convene a special session on AIDS would raise societys awareness and strengthen political will. He believed preparations should begin early to ensure the success of the upcoming special session. In closing, he recognized the challenge of HIV/AIDS to China, which was taking various measures to address the crisis: focusing on prevention advocacy; promoting the participation of society at large; and attaching importance to the special session.
ASTONA BROWNE (St.Kitts and Nevis), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said HIV/AIDS did not recognize national boundaries. The devastating pandemic was ravaging the small islands States of the Caribbean, where, according to the statistics, several countries had already recorded transmission rates that, apart from sub-Saharan Africa, were among the highest in the world. The stigma of having AIDS and the long incubation period were among the factors that made detection difficult to obtain in any population. In the Caribbean, that difficulty was compounded by inadequate epidemiological systems. Thus, the present statistics might not even be reflecting the gravity of the situation. The international community, however, had become increasingly sensitized to the need for multi-sectoral and inter-governmental approaches.
The international community must be further mobilized to confront the challenge and reverse the trends of the AIDS epidemic, she said. CARICOM was constantly reminded of the unprecedented challenges of the AIDS epidemic, which threatened to undermine future economic and social developmental. CARICOM shared the view that AIDS was among the "combustible mix" of social dilemmas that now plagued the Caribbean. In addition to the accompanying human suffering, AIDS tore at the very fabric of the family and community life. It exacerbated high levels of poverty and threatened social stability. CARICOM was committed to investing the required resources for national strategic plans to stem the spread of the scourge.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said his country was not immune to the global invasion of HIV/AIDS. There was no telling the exact number of HIV/AIDS victims in Fiji, due to limited facilities and expertise and lack of best-practices protocols. Those few that had passed away from the disease had died under sad circumstances, due to continuing stigmatization and associated myths that could only be dispelled with targeted and global advocacy.
His Government had established a National Task Force and was relentlessly pursuing an awareness programme. Acknowledging the work of UNAIDS and collaboration with UNDP/United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) offices in Fiji, he praised the joint efforts of the United Nations agencies and regional pilot studies and conferences. The Human Rights HIV/AIDS Advisory Council, based at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, was coordinating three study programmes
He found the debate on the culture of peace this week timely in consideration of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Pacific region advocated the inculcation of peace and tolerance in the minds of peoples and children through education and through the family. Prevention, tolerance, support and care were immediate values that were now being fostered. Again, one was experiencing seemingly insurmountable health, development and security problems concentrated in developing nations, for which the remedies -- resources, research and finance -- were in the hands of developed nations, but one should not resign oneself helplessly to that scenario. Building strong holistic partnerships in ones own country, then taking on international partnerships could make a difference, he said.
ENTCHO GOSPODINOV, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the Federation would start immediately a new, strategic initiative called the African Red Cross and Red Crescent Health Initiative 2010 (ARCHI) together with all health ministries in the continent and all major United Nations partners. The 10-year plan of action identified all major health problems in Africa, HIV/AIDS being the most urgent. In order to change the scope and speed of this "killing machine", the Federation, recognizing that the war against HIV/AIDS would be won - or lost - at a local level, planned to concentrate its efforts on working ever closer with the local communities. Actions would be focused on: advocacy; building and applying knowledge by ensuring the Federation staff were knowledgeable on HIV/AIDS; distribution of condoms and the promotion of their proper use; and supporting home care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
He said action would also be focused on advocacy towards community authorities on behalf of orphans, the promotion of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation and the promotion of the development and availability of voluntary counseling and HIV testing. The Nazi virus was defeated only when a worldwide coalition was created to stop it and exterminate it. In the coming years HIV/AIDS would kill more people than all wars and natural disasters had in the last 50 years. Thus, the time had come to form the coalition and start the counter-attack with all the financial, scientific and medical weapons at hand. And, as the Federation President, Dr. Astrid Heiberg, said: "Ten years from now we might be able to look back and say we made Africa a healthier place to live."
Action on Draft Resolution
The representative of the Secretariat informed the Assembly that adoption of the draft resolution contained in document A/55/L.13 would not give rise to additional requirements over and above the $1,628,900 contained in the programme budget implications statement submitted at the fifty-fourth session of the Assembly.
Once a final decision was taken on the preparatory process and the special session itself (its structure, participation and coverage), and on whether additional resources would be required, the Secretary-General would revert to that issue.
The Assemblys President, HARRI HOLKERI (Finland), announced that Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Finland, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe had become co-sponsors of the draft resolution.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on review of the problem of HIV/AIDS syndrome in all its aspects.
Strengthening of United Nations System
The Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution submitted by the President of the Assembly, entitled Amendment to rule 1 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, contained in document A/55/L.19.
Cooperation between UN and OAS: Introduction of Draft Resolution
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada), as the current chair of the permanent council of the OAS, introduced the draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the OAS (document A/55/L.21). Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Japan, Panama, Peru and Honduras had joined Canada in co-sponsoring the draft.
He said the text welcomed the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April 2001 in Canada; acknowledged the declaration by the OAS of 2001 as the Inter- American Year of the Child and the Adolescent, and supported related efforts in the Americas to address emerging issues for children; recognized information exchanges between the OAS and United Nations missions in the hemisphere; and supported the work of the OAS toward the promotion of democracy in the Americas.
The OAS shared the United Nations fundamental goals of promoting peace and security and ensuring respect for human rights, he said. It was important for the two organizations to work closely together to develop and strengthen activities to address the multifaceted challenges facing the citizens of the hemisphere. Collaborative efforts had developed in such activities as electoral observation, disaster management, refugee protection and human rights.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) spoke on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Norway. He said that the Union welcomed the fact that the United Nations and the OAS were able to hold talks and develop close bilateral relations. Among the most significant joint actions following the completion of the International Civilian Mission in Haitis mandate in March 2000, the Union would emphasize the continuation of regular consultations between the OAS and the United Nations Civilian Support Mission for Haiti (MICAH). The Union reaffirmed its full support for the efforts undertaken by the OAS in attempting to find a solution to the serious political crisis that Haiti was experiencing.
The Union would like to acknowledge the decisive role played by the OAS in preventing and resolving conflicts, he continued. Useful lessons could be drawn from that experience for other regions of the world. He underlined, in particular, the role the OAS had played and should continue to play in connection with the elections in Peru. The Union also applauded the mediatory role played by the OAS in the disagreement between Honduras and Nicaragua, and recognized its role in developing a number of regional and interregional projects.
Obviously, the Union intended to continue its own efforts at cooperation with both the OAS and ECLAC, whenever the opportunity arose. The Union also fostered, either directly or through its member States, sustained and productive cooperation with the OAS anti-drugs unit. The Union had, moreover, developed very positive cooperation with the OAS in the sphere of election monitoring.
MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) said that Guatemala and Haiti were the two most salient cases of cooperation between the United Nations and the OAS. Thanks in no small part to the information provided by the OAS, the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) had been able to contribute to the peace process by supervising the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants into society. Under its supervision, the referendum on constitutional reform was held in May last year, and the general election was held last November. Japan supported the extension of the mandate of MINUGUA until 31 December 2001, as recommended in the recent report of the Secretary- General.
He appreciated the activities of the joint United Nations/OAS International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) and MICAH in promoting democracy in that country. In order to enhance democracy and stability in Haiti, Japan had made a financial contribution and sent observers to monitor both the presidential election, as well as the local elections held in 1995. It had also contributed $3 million to the United Nations fund for the establishment of a national police force in Haiti. His Government was, thus, disappointed with the situation in the wake of the general and local elections, held in May and July this year. He urged the Government of Haiti to make the greatest possible efforts to advance the democratization process.
He believed that the democratization process in Peru had important implications for the political stability and economic development not only of that country but also of the entire Andean region. In accordance with that view, his Government had contributed $200,000 dollars in support of the monitoring activities of the OAS for this years presidential elections. His Government had also contributed $1.88 million dollars to the various projects of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD). Japan had also
contributed significant funds towards the elimination of landmines that were laid during the civil wars in many parts of Central America.
JOAO CLEMENTE BAENA SOARES (Brazil) said he had the privilege of being the Secretary-General of the OAS for 10 years. It was, therefore, a great honour to speak on a subject very dear, that of cooperation between the United Nations and the OAS. That theme was first introduced in 1987, on an annual basis, but now was discussed every two years. The cooperation between the United Nations and the OAS had continued to increase.
Historically, the OAS was the oldest regional organization, born as the seed of the first Inter-American Conference in 1889. In 1948, it assumed its current state. The Charter of the United Nations recognized, in Chapter VIII, the contribution of regional organizations for peace and security. There was a complementarity between the OAS and the United Nations system that was expressed in the relationship between the Pan-American Health Organization and WHO, as well as in the exchange of information for support of missions in the hemisphere.
He noted that ECLAC made important contributions on development in cooperation with OAS bodies, particularly the Inter-American Womens Commission and the Inter-American Institute for Children. In addition, the OAS had done pioneer work in sponsoring conventions on the trade of small arms, including the register of sales of weaponry. He took note of OAS efforts to develop a comprehensive programme to fight terrorism, as indicated in the declaration and plan of action of Lima in 1996. In closing, he hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of American States (document A/55/L.21) and concluded the consideration of the subject.
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