GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS ALGERIA, BENIN, BRAZIL, PHILIPPINES, ROMANIA TO TWO-YEAR TERMS ON SECURITY COUNCIL, BEGINNING 1 JANUARY 2004

23 October 2003
GA/10181

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS ALGERIA, BENIN, BRAZIL, PHILIPPINES, ROMANIA TO TWO-YEAR TERMS ON SECURITY COUNCIL, BEGINNING 1 JANUARY 2004

23/10/2003
Press Release
GA/10181


Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Plenary

42nd Meeting (AM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS ALGERIA, BENIN, BRAZIL, PHILIPPINES, ROMANIA


TO TWO-YEAR TERMS ON SECURITY COUNCIL, BEGINNING 1 JANUARY 2004


Also Continues Discussion of Global Road Safety, Follow-Up to Major UN Conferences


The General Assembly this morning elected Algeria, Benin, Brazil, Philippines and Romania to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2004.


They will fill the seats vacated on 31 December by Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Syria.  Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain will continue to serve as elected Council members during 2004, for the second of their two-year terms.


Following the election, the Assembly concluded its debate on the global road safety crisis, during which Singapore's representative noted that motor vehicles had become such an efficient and convenient mode of transportation.  They had also become an essential part of everyday life, and it was almost forgotten that those "high-velocity moving lumps of metal and plastic" were also lethal weapons and sometimes weapons of mass destruction.  Every year a heavy toll was paid in human life for that convenience.  The projections of the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that, by 2020, road traffic injuries would overtake HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and rank third among the causes of death and disability.


The representative of Fiji added that most deaths and fateful injuries were preventable if suitable intervention were developed.  While primary responsibility in that regard lay with Member States, there was a need to foster investment and partnership between States and the United Nations system to share knowledge, best practices and resources.  Regional coordination and cooperation would assist developing nations, especially those facing unique challenges.


Statements were also made by the representatives of the United States and the Observer for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


The Assembly also completed its consideration of matters related to the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic- and social-related fields, with a statement from the representative of Partners for Population and Development.


The Assembly will meet next on Monday, 27 October, to consider the cluster of items concerning the revitalization of the Assembly, restructuring and reform, which will be introduced by the Deputy Secretary-General.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to elect five non-permanent members of the Security Council.


It was also expected to conclude its consideration of follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences in the economic, social and related fields, and the global road safety crisis.


The report of the Secretary-General on integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields (document A/58/359) recalls that the Assembly, in its resolution 57/270 B, provided for a framework for enhanced coherence among the various implementation and follow-up processes.  The report focuses on identifying the core elements of the framework essential for integrating these follow-up processes and for ensuring a sharper focus on implementation.  It also highlights those aspects of the resolution that require special attention during the Assembly's fifty-eighth session, particularly with regard to intergovernmental bodies.  Among its recommendations, the Assembly may wish to initiate an assessment of the functioning of the follow-up mechanisms established in chapter III of the Monterrey Consensus.


Also before the Assembly is the Secretary-General's report on global road safety crisis (document A/58/228), which stresses that road traffic injuries now posed a global public-health crisis that required urgent action at the national and international levels.  It describes the gravity of the problem; the health, social and economic implications; and the risk factors and determinants that predisposed certain groups to vulnerability to road traffic injuries.


Stressing that road traffic injuries were a global problem affecting all sectors of society, the report notes that, to date, road safety has received insufficient attention at both the national and international levels.  That has resulted in part from a lack of information on the magnitude of the problem and its preventability; a fatalistic approach to road crashes; and a lack of the political responsibility and multidisciplinary collaboration needed to tackle it effectively.


Among other things, the report recommends that the Assembly call for efforts by the United Nations system to address the global road safety crisis; call on Member States, particularly developing countries that bear a large proportion of the burden of road traffic injuries, to address the problem and reduce its adverse consequences; encourage each State to assess its own road traffic safety problem and situation; and recommend that States aim to ensure an availability of sufficient resources commensurate with the size of the problem in their countries.


A related draft resolution (document A/58/L.3) would have the Assembly decide to hold a plenary meeting of the Assembly on 14 April 2004 in connection with World Health Day and the launching of the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention to increase awareness at a high level of the magnitude of the road traffic injury problem, and invite governments to participate, as appropriate.


The Assembly would also request the Department of Public Information (DPI) to organize a meeting of experts, the private sector, relevant non-governmental organizations, members of civil society and other interested parties, including the media, on the afternoon of 14 April 2004, in conjunction with the plenary meeting, to raise awareness and exchange information on best road practices.


Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly at its sixtieth session on the progress made in improving global road safety and the issues referred to in the present resolution, also taking into consideration the views expressed during the meetings on 14 April 2004.


Elections


The five non-permanent members were to be elected according to the following pattern:  three from Africa and Asia, one from Eastern Europe and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.  There was an understanding to the effect that, of the three States to be elected from Africa and Asia, two should be from Africa and one from Asia.


The meeting suspended at 10:25 a.m. and resumed at 11:46 a.m.


The results of the balloting were as follows:


African and Asian States


Number of ballot papers:                             182

Number of invalid ballots:                             0

Number of valid ballots:                             182

Abstentions:                                           0

Number of members voting:                                 182

Required majority:                                   122


Number of votes obtained:


Benin                                                181

Philippines                                          179

Algeria                                              178

Republic of Korea                                      1


Eastern European States


Number of ballot papers:                             182

Number of invalid ballots:                             0

Number of valid ballots:                             182

Abstentions:                                           7

Number of members voting:                                 175

Required majority:                                   117


Number of votes obtained:


Romania                                              174

Poland                                                 1


Latin American and Caribbean States


Number of ballot papers:                             182

Number of invalid ballots:                             0

Number of valid ballots:                             182

Abstentions:                                           4

Number of members voting:                                 178

Required majority:                                   119


Number of votes obtained:


Brazil                                               177

Argentina                                              1


Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, Algeria, Benin, Philippines, Romania and Brazil were elected to the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2004.


Statements


TAN YORK CHOR (Singapore) said that motor vehicles had become such an efficient and convenient mode of transportation.  They had also become an essential part of everyday life in some form or other, so much so that it was almost forgotten that "these high-velocity moving lumps of metal and plastic" were also lethal weapons and sometimes weapons of mass destruction.  Every year a heavy toll was paid in human life for that convenience.  The projections of the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that, by 2020, road-traffic injuries would overtake HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and rank third among the causes of death and disability.  Apart from the death toll and human cost, the approximate worldwide financial cost of road accidents was estimated at $500 billion.  The social cost of the growing crisis could not be measured merely in dollars and cents, he said, noting to the devastation of families as a result of road deaths.


His Government had implemented the three "Es" -- engineering, enforcement and education.  In the area of engineering, experts from Singapore's Land Transport Authority regularly conducted road safety inspections to ensure the road conditions met the highest standards of maintenance.  Special Expressway Monitoring Advisory Systems were also installed, which made it possible for video cameras, located along expressways, to monitor traffic and respond quickly to accidents.  In the area of enforcement, the Government was obliged to take strong action to change the mindset of road users and make them think twice before engaging in dangerous road behaviour.  Education was the only guarantee for long-term improvement in road safety.  As a result of the implementation of the three Es, Singapore had been able to bring about a steady drop in the number of fatalities and serious accidents over the last two decades.


ISIKIA RABICI SAVUA (Fiji) said most deaths and fateful injuries were preventable if suitable interventions were developed.  While primary responsibility in that regard lay with Member States, he agreed with the Secretary-General that there was a need to foster investment and partnership between States and the United Nations system to share knowledge, best practices and resources.  Regional coordination and cooperation would assist developing nations, especially those facing unique challenges.


Nationally, the Fiji National Road Safety Council was established to enhance safety for all road users through education, he stated.  The region had made progress in promoting road-safety procedures through cooperation with the State of Victoria, Australia, which had been assisting the Fiji Police in the use of speed guns and providing equipment to teach road safety.  In addition, the Asian Development Bank had provided soft loans to help the National Council further realize its responsibilities.


BENJAMIN GILMAN (United States) said the issue of road safety held a prominent place in his country's national and international agenda.  At the national level, the United States had reduced its annual traffic-related fatalities from 55,000, in the late 1960s, to 42,800 last year.  Still, the fatality rate was stagnant and the associated societal and economic costs continued to be high, at $230 billion a year.  The country could not be complacent about the annual deaths of 42,000 citizens, and simply accept that loss as an unavoidable part of living in a heavily motorized country.


Internationally, his nation had stepped up activities to address traffic-safety issues through its participation in the Working Party on Road Traffic Safety, within the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), he continued.  Moreover, the United States strongly believed that any coordinated initiatives to address the problem of global road safety should be managed within the existing United Nations/ECE Working Party, as infrastructure and technical expertise were in place and the ECE's mandate was inclusive of non-European countries, including developing economies.


BEKELE GELETA, observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, noted that, in many cases, Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers were the first to reach road crash sites, where they provided first aid and psychological support to crash victims in communities around the world.  He hoped that the attention that was being given to the issue would lead to concerted action at regional and national levels.  Of great concern, was the fact that road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death, worldwide, of persons aged between 15 and 44, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries and the poor.  He recalled that, as early as 1998, the International Federation had already raised the alarm.  It had published a study on "traffic accidents" in the World Disasters Report, whose central message was that action needed to be taken by governments, the private sector, civil society and the public at large to deal with the "disaster".


In 1999, the International Conference of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, governments and the Movement's national societies committed themselves to a Plan of Action to respond to the growing problem.  But the Plan of Action left a lot to be desired because, while there were good responses from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, there were fewer from governments.  He stressed that partnerships were a prerequisite for the achievement of real progress in addressing the crisis, and highlighted the formation in 1999 of the Global Road Safety Partnership, dedicated to the improvement of road safety in transitional and developing countries.


JYOTI SHANKAR SINGH, representative of Partners in Population and Development, said the activities and programmes undertaken over the past several years by her organization, which had been recognized by the Assembly in 1999 as a major South-South initiative, had been dedicated to the promotion and early implementation of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) goals and objectives.  They covered four priority areas:  family planning and reproductive health; maternal mortality and morbidity; issues concerning adolescents; and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.  The modalities used to focus on those themes were policy dialogue, training, research and dissemination of information.


South-South cooperation, he continued, served as an effective and cost-efficient modality in capacity-building and programme management.  Furthermore, in promoting bilateral and multilateral North-South initiatives, and opening channels for cooperation between governments and the private sector, the goals of global partnerships were being promoted.  For those reasons, the integrated and coordinated follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic and social fields was of importance.  Among others, initiatives such as the country-level assessment of progress and constraints in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action, undertaken by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), would provide valuable insight.  Finally, given the integral relationship between the Millennium Development Goals and the ICPD goals and objectives, a number of policy dialogues on various aspects of the relationship would be organized.


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For information media. Not an official record.