|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
52nd Meeting (AM)
With Non-Communicable Diseases Rapidly Becoming Serious Public Health Threats
General Assembly Delegates Urge More Attention to Socio-Economic Impacts
Assembly Also Adopts Resolutions on Fostering Culture of Peace;
Sustained, Inclusive Economic Growth; Report of International Criminal Court
Non-communicable diseases related to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol have emerged as a serious macroeconomic and development challenge around the globe, exacerbating poverty and requiring urgent attention to curb related productivity loss and rapidly rising health-care costs, General Assembly delegates said today.
Prevention of heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease needed to be made a priority on the development agenda, or they would increase in low- and middle-income countries and disproportionately affect the poor, delegates said during the meeting, in which the Assembly also adopted three consensus resolutions, on, respectively, sustained, inclusive growth; fostering a culture of peace; and the report of the International Criminal Court.
During wide ranging discussion in which delegations also addressed follow-up to major United Nations conferences in related social and economic fields, the Millennium Summit, and strengthening the United Nations system, Yemen’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report that showed non-communicable diseases had emerged as one of the twenty-first century’s major development challenges.
“Health and poverty are interlinked and are central to sustainable development,” he said, underscoring the importance of strengthening international cooperation in the area of public health. While noting various national and regional initiatives to prevent those diseases, he said the statistics were “daunting”. Non-communicable diseases accounted for an estimated 55 million deaths annually, including the deaths of some 8 million people before age 60. Over 90 per cent of those deaths occurred in developing countries and among the poorest populations.
Prevention measures would be central to combat the heavy and growing global burden of non-communicable diseases, said the representative of Belgium, who spoke on behalf of the European Union. “Strategies and mechanisms are needed to address the determinants of these diseases, such as lifestyles and underlying environmental, commercial, economic and social factors,” he said, adding next year’s high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases offered a key opportunity to debate issues and raise global awareness on the matter.
Also on that issue, the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said non-communicable diseases presented significant socio-economic challenges to her region. Public policies for sectors other than health, such as agriculture, food production and education, must also be influenced and targeted for action on the problem, she said. CARICOM States supported the development of indicators to monitor how States addressed the issue and would continue to be fully engaged in current negotiations to determine the scope of a high-level meeting in the General Assembly on non-communicable diseases next year.
The representative of New Zealand said cancer and heart disease were the main causes of death in his country, and disparities between ethnic groups were particularly worrying, notably among the Mäori and Pasifika populations. In the Pacific, more than 70 per cent of deaths were due to non-communicable diseases. In response to the growing burden, New Zealand researchers and scientists had collaborated with partners to find solutions to stem the epidemic. His Government was committed to engaging actively and productively in all processes related to the 2011 high-level meeting on the Prevention and Control of non-communicable diseases.
As some delegates touched on ways to improve coherence throughout the Organization, one issue that received attention was the selection and conditions of service of Executive Heads in the United Nations programmes, in light of a Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report on the practices for selecting and appointing the Secretary-General and other senior officials. “It is a long overdue evaluation of the legal and institutional framework and practices in the selection and appointment of such senior officials,” said the representative of India.
He called for relevant legislative bodies to have a greater role in appointments, and especially a greater say by the Assembly in the process of selecting the Secretary-General. The wider membership must also have “real engagement” in the processes to elect or appoint Executive Heads of the funds and programmes. “We would not like to see it reduced to a mere pro forma exercise, which is regretfully the case at the present, with members given unrealistically tight time frames to react to the Secretary-General’s recommendation,” he said.
Delegates also spoke on the follow-up of the Millennium Summit, agreeing through the consensus adoption of a relevant resolution that they must work together towards sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth. The text invites Member States, in particular within the United Nations framework, to share best practices and lessons learned in the process of pursuing such sustained economic growth
The representative from the United States stressed the need to foster innovation and deploy new technologies to confront global threats, such as disease, under-nutrition, climate change and other environmental challenges. “Our strategy emphasizes country ownership and national responsibility for development — principles which require accountability both from donors and partner countries,” he said.
Speaking ahead of action on the resolution related to the International Criminal Court, Sudan’s representative said his delegation disassociated itself from the text, as it was greatly disappointed about “distorted information” regarding his country in the annual report of the International Criminal Court.
During the meeting, the acting President also informed Members that consideration of agenda item 117 (Implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations) and agenda item 118 (Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly) scheduled for Thursday, 2 December had been postponed to Monday, 6 December.
Introducing the draft resolution on “sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth for poverty eradication and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” (document A/65/L.12), was the representative of the Republic of Korea. A Member of Parliament of Bangladesh introduced draft resolution on the Culture of Peace (document A/65/L.8), while the representative of the Netherlands introduced the draft resolution on the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/65/L.13).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Viet Nam, Cuba, Switzerland, Qatar, Singapore, Russian Federation, Norway, Kuwait and Australia.
A representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 29 November to consider the Situation in the Middle East and the Question of Palestine.
The General Assembly met today to consider matters regarding a follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit and to discuss the strengthening of the United Nations system. Delegations were also set to take action on several draft resolutions, including texts on the Millennium Development Goals, culture of peace, and the International Criminal Court.
For its discussion, the Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report by the Director-General of the World Health Organization on the global status of non-communicable diseases, with a particular focus on the development challenges faced by developing countries (document A/65/362). The report says heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease accounted for a large enough share of premature deaths and poverty in low- and middle-income countries so that such non-communicable diseases should be confronted in global development initiatives.
According to the report, non-communicable diseases were emerging globally as a serious macroeconomic and development challenge because of the related loss of productivity, rapidly rising health-care costs, and their links with poverty. It estimates that annually some 8 million people die before the age of 60 around the globe from diseases which largely shared the same risk factors — tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.
Such diseases and their causes need to be monitored, while non-State sectors need to be accountable for their policies and decisions that influence health, the report says. Prevention of non-communicable diseases need to be fully integrated into priorities of global and national development agendas, including through poverty reduction initiatives, otherwise the burden of non-communicable diseases will increase in low- and middle-income countries, disproportionately affecting the poor.
The Assembly also had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on the role of the special representatives of the Secretary-General and resident coordinators (document A/65/394 and Add.1), which aims to examine barriers to coherence and integration of the United Nations system and make recommendations to overcome them so the world body could better meet the needs of developing countries, as well as those in conflict and post-conflict situations.
The report notes that no definition of “coherence” has been adopted within the United Nations system but, in general, it was a term applies to developing countries not involved in peace operations, whereas “integration” related to countries where peace operations were in place.
It contains 18 benchmarks towards achieving coherence in the United Nations system, including the need for Member States to effectively guide the process. Meanwhile, Security Council mandates should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound with sufficient resources to match. Among the other benchmarks, there needs to be effective concerted efforts and coordination mechanisms in place for peacekeeping operations; coherent interaction with external partners from civil society, Bretton Woods institutions, regional organizations and the private sector; a flexible model to respond to specific and changing needs of each country; and “One Leader” should be empowered at country level with necessary authority and held accountable to for successfully implementing the “One UN” plan.
The report recommends legislative organs adopt the benchmarking framework to guide and measure efforts towards a more efficient and effective Organization. It also submits for the Assembly’s consideration comments by member organizations of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which largely accepted the general thrust of benchmarks but desired more clarity on mechanisms proposed to implement each benchmark.
Delegations also had before them the Secretary-General’s note transmitting another JIU report, on selection and conditions of service of Executive Heads in the United Nations system organizations (document A/65/71 and Add.1), which evaluates the framework and practices to select and appoint the Secretary-General and other Executive Heads in the Organization. It contains 13 recommendations to establish harmonized selection criteria that would ensure the highest quality of leadership and management.
Among those recommendations, it calls for issuing vacancy announcements and terms of references for executive posts, as well as an institutionalized interview process to enhance transparency and ensure accountability. It also recommends that legislative bodies establish timelines to select Executive Heads at least three months before the expiring date of the mandate of the incumbent in order to ensure a smooth transition. Further, Executive Heads should be limited to a maximum of two successive terms not exceeding five years each. The report urges ending unethical practices, such as promises, favours or gifts provided by candidates for Executive Heads or their supporting Governments in return for favourable votes should also be condemned and prohibited.
As for the draft resolutions under consideration, a text on sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth for poverty eradication and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (document A/65/L.12) would have the Assembly recognize that national efforts for sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth should be complemented by an enabling international environment, and in that regard, invite Member States to share best practices and lessons learned in that pursuit. Regional commissions would be invited to facilitate discussions of that issue.
By other terms, the Economic and Social Council would be requested to hold a panel on sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth for accelerating poverty eradication and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals during its 2011 substantive session and the Secretary-General requested to include policy recommendations in his annual report on progress in reaching the Goals by 2015.
A draft resolution on Implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/65/L.8) would have the Assembly invite Member States to expand their activities to foster such a culture at the national, regional and international levels, and encourage the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — for which the promotion of such a culture was an expression of its mandate — to strengthen its activities in that regard.
By other terms, it would encourage the Peacebuilding Commission to advance a culture of peace and non-violence in post-conflict peacebuilding efforts at the country level, and urge authorities to provide age-appropriate education in schools, including lessons on tolerance, active citizenship and human rights.
The media would be encouraged to promote non-violence, particularly for children and youth, while civil society and non-governmental organizations would be called on to strengthen their efforts by adopting their own programme of activities to complement those of Member States and the United Nations. For his part, the Secretary-General would be requested to consider enhancing mechanisms for implementing the Declaration and Programme of Action and to submit a report on activities undertaken to implement the present resolution at the sixty-sixth session.
By a draft resolution on the Report of the International Criminal Court (A/65/L.13), the Assembly would note with satisfaction that the Court had achieved “considerable” progress in its analyses, investigations and judicial proceedings and cases referred to it by States parties to the Rome Statute and the Security Council. It would welcome States that had become parties to the Rome Statute in the past year, and call on those that had not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to it without delay. States parties that had not yet done so would be called upon to adopt national legislation to implement obligations emanating from the Rome Statute and cooperate with the Court in the exercise of its functions.
Further, the Assembly would call upon those States that were obliged to cooperate with the Court to do so in the future, especially with regard to arrest and surrender, provision of evidence, protection and relocation of victims and witnesses and enforcement of sentences. Regional organizations would be invited to consider concluding cooperation agreements with the Court. States would be encouraged to contribute to the Trust Fund established for victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction and their families. It would also note the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held from 31 May to 11 June 2010 in Kampala, Uganda, and look forward to the holding of the ninth session of the Assembly of States Parties in New York from 6 to 10 December 2010.
Introduction of Draft
PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea), introducing a draft resolution on sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth for poverty eradication (document A/65/L.12), said that among the important milestones achieved at the Assembly’s 2010 review of the status of the Millennium Development Goals was to deliver a clear message to the global community about the type of economic growth that would lead to poverty eradication and achievement of those targets by 2015. However, that growth should be sustained without halt or reversal, and should guarantee the participation of the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholders without excluding marginalized peoples and regions. That view had led world leaders, he said, to declare that “sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth” was the key to poverty eradication and the achievement of the Goals.
The sponsors of the draft resolution shared the view that a strengthened discussion of the economic dimension of development was needed. The international community also needed to formulate policy guidance that aimed to encourage institutions and policies favourable for sustained growth, maximize the impact of growth on health, education, and gender equality, and devise policies necessary for the poor to gain their fair share. The text was also part of the follow-up to the Assembly’s High-level Plenary Meeting on the Goals, held in September, as well as a procedural draft, which asked for facilitation of an active dialogue on sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth.
He said that in order to do that, the draft resolution invited Member States to share best practices and lessons learned; invited the regional commissions to facilitate discussions of the issue in each region; requested the Economic and Social Council to hold a panel discussion during the 2011 substantive session; and finally, requested the Secretary-General to include policy recommendations on the issue in his annual report on the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
When the floor was opened for discussion, Assembly delegations addressed all the topics before them, including follow-up to major United Nations conferences in related social and economic fields, the Millennium Summit, and strengthening the United Nations system.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) delivered a statement on behalf of the 123 initial sponsors of the draft just introduced, recalling that, on the sidelines of the Assembly’s High-level Meeting, countries from South and East Asia had hosted a Ministerial-level panel discussion on 21 September on the theme of “Achieving the MDGs through Partnership: Sharing experiences and challenges in Asia”. Among measures identified on the way forward, those States agreed that “emphasis should be placed on reducing poverty through sustained growth”.
Despite a “slow and fragile recovery” from the global financial crisis, he said East Asian economies were among the first to rebound soundly and to become one of the key drivers of the global economic recovery. The region was placing greater emphasis on the kind of growth that enabled everyone to benefit equally from economic development, with job creation and social protection measures aiming at protecting and empowering people and communities, in particular the most vulnerable.
Additionally, he said the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 28 October 2010, adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which emphasized that policies for sustained economic growth would have to be complemented by targeted interventions and would require increased investment to basic infrastructure, health care and education. The “ASEAN plus Three” Summit, held on 29 October, reaffirmed the importance of promoting regional economic competitiveness and equitable development. Viet Nam encouraged all Member States who had not done so to consider sponsoring the resolution, and stated that it remained fully committed to supporting the process of sustained economic growth for the eradication of poverty.
WAHEED AL-SHAMI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that much more must be done to achieve health-related Millennium Development Goals. “Health and poverty are interlinked and are central to sustainable development,” he stressed, noting that the emergence of non-communicable diseases was among the major challenges in the twenty-first century. The Group supported the call for continued implementation of the 2008-2013 Action Plan for the control of those diseases, and recognized the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Indeed, non-communicable diseases affected every world region. While noting various national and regional initiatives to prevent those diseases, he said the statistics were “daunting”. Non-communicable diseases accounted for an estimated 55 million deaths annually, including premature deaths of 8 million people before age 60. Over 90 per cent of those deaths occurred in developing countries and among the poorest populations.
Moreover, he said that WHO predicted that by 2015, cases of non-communicable diseases would jump by 90 per cent, and without immediate action, would vastly increase health-care costs and overwhelm national health care systems. In Africa alone, deaths were estimated to grow by 20 per cent by 2015. Given that, the Group underscored the importance of strengthening international cooperation in the area of public health. He urged developed countries to meet the agreed 0.7 target of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated for official development assistance (ODA), saying that the need for sustained assistance in building the capacity of public health systems, training, recruiting and retaining skilled personnel, and developing the necessary infrastructure was essential to stem the growing threat of non-communicable diseases. In closing, he said the Group was pleased to join consensus the resolution calling for a high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases to be held in 2011.
CHRISTOPHE DE BASSOMPIERRE (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, said Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia aligned themselves with his declaration on sustained, equitable growth for poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Goals. Economic growth, provided it was socially inclusive, produced a much greater effect on poverty reduction than direct transfers of resources: it could have a multiplier effect through employment creation and social protection.
Continuing, such growth should act increasingly as a catalyst for development aid, and adequate national policies that created an environment conducive to growth played an important role in that respect. To meet the Goals, growth needed to be sustained, inclusive and equitable, he said. The Assembly was sending an important policy message with the current draft resolution — it showed the United Nations capacity to tackle the main issues and challenges of our time.
On the subject of non-communicable diseases, he said Turkey, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia aligned themselves with his declaration. The WHO report being considered today by the Assembly made it very clear non-communicable diseases represented a heavy and growing global health burden. Prevention was central to combating that burden. “Strategies and mechanisms are needed to address the determinants of these diseases, such as lifestyles and underlying environmental, commercial, economic and social factors,” he said.
Multi-sectoral and integrated approaches were required to successfully tackle the diseases, as many were caused by factors beyond the remit of the health system to address. National health systems also needed to be strengthened to address non-communicable diseases, and in that regard he welcomed the commitment made at the recent High-Level Meeting on the Goals to address evolving health challenges. Next year’s high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases offered a key opportunity to debate issues and raise global awareness on this matter, he said.
CHERRY ANN MILLARD-WHITE ( Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said global public health was of fundamental importance to her region. With that in mind, CARICOM Heads of State and Governments had established the Caribbean Regional Health Agency to replace five existing health institutions, with a view to facilitating a more coordinated approach to regional health issues. Non-communicable diseases presented significant socio-economic development challenges for the Caribbean, where related prevalence and mortality rates were among the highest in the world.
The issue disproportionately affected the poor, due to their limited access to affordable health care. The Caribbean however, was not alone in facing such challenges and welcomed the report of the Director-General of WHO, which indicated that those diseases accounted for 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide, over 80 per cent of which occurred in developing countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries. That fact established a strong link between addressing those challenges and the global development agenda, she said. Non-communicable diseases were emerging worldwide as a serious macroeconomic and development challenge due to the loss of productivity, rapidly rising health-care costs and links with poverty.
There was a critical need for increased political commitment and international collaboration to promote partnerships for the prevention and control of those diseases; to monitor them at all levels and to strengthen health care for those suffering. She said that public policies for sectors other than health, such as agriculture, food production and education, must also be influenced and targeted for inter-sectoral action. For such reasons, her delegation had brought that issue to the General Assembly in 2009 and looked forward to the positive outcomes of regional meetings being convened on non-communicable diseases ahead of the September 2011 high-level meeting. Her delegation supported the development of indicators to monitor how States addressed the issue and would continue to be fully engaged in current negotiations to determine the scope of the high-level meeting.
Speaking on the issue of sustainable and inclusive development, RODOLFO ELISEO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN ( Cuba) stated that despite attempts to “gloss over current circumstances”, the world situation remained extremely complex. One clear fact was that despite many promises made, some developed countries had resorted to protectionism — to the detriment of developing countries. Bank rescue plans implemented recently in the face of the world financial crisis contrasted with the ever-decreasing amount of money allocated to development, and in particular with ODA. Those policies, among others, were unfair and should be replaced.
At the Assembly’s High-level Plenary in September, it was obvious that most States would not be able to comply with “modest” requests made in the area of development, while requests for increased assistance were ignored by rich countries. If that path continued to be followed, he said, the Millennium Goals and other internationally-agreed development targets would be missed. Production and consumption patterns in the global North needed to change. Moreover, a new international financial architecture was needed and should be a priority.
He said there was also a need to strengthen the role of the United Nations in mapping out relevant strategies, and the actions of all the Organization’s bodies must be more coherent, while strict respect for mandates and clear leadership in the field of development assistance must be ensured. “Harmful practices” in the Secretariat and the Funds and Programmes should be ended — in particular, the fact that a small group of countries dominated those bodies. The leadership of the Funds and Programmes should therefore be distributed more widely.
He went on to say that Cuba was on track to meeting the majority of the Millennium Development Goals despite the unfair blockade, which was the main obstacle to the country’s development and to increasing the standard of living of the Cuban people. Achieving human development had always been a priority for Cuba, which was also committed to raising the standard of living. Cuba believes that the Human Development Report, published annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), should reflect the indicators that enjoyed international consensus, and should abstain from using “politically biased and partial sources”. That survey should respect General Assembly resolution 57/265 (2002), which stated that consultations with Member States on compiling the report should be “wide-ranging and substantive”. Cuba stressed that only with the participation of all States with and a strengthened United Nations defending international law would the international community build a better world for future generations.
RICK BARTON (United States) said during his delegation’s address to the Assembly’s review of the Millennium Development Goals, President Barack Obama had unveiled a new development strategy, which strongly supported full realization of those targets, grounded in the fact that sustained and inclusive economic growth, was the surest path to poverty alleviation and development. It stressed the need to foster innovation and deploy new technologies to confront global threats such as disease, under-nutrition, climate change and other environmental challenges. “Our strategy emphasizes country ownership and national responsibility for development — principles which require accountability both from donors and partner countries,” he said.
As tangible steps towards international development goals, the United States had introduced the $63 billion Global Health Initiative, the $3.5 billion Feed the Future Initiative, and a new $4 billion multi-year pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, he said.
Turning to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits, he said the United States supported further discussion of best practices and lessons learned in pursuit of the type of growth highlighted in the outcome document of the High-Level Plenary. The United States also looked forward to the high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases next fall, and was committed to a successful event with focused, tangible outcomes. “The United States continues to urge full implementation of the outcome of other major United Nations development conferences and summits, including the Millennium Declaration, Johannesburg Plan of Action, the World Summit Outcome, the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development,” he said.
With appropriate streamlining of its agenda items, the Economic and Social Council had an important role to play in following up on the outcomes of major United Nations conferences, he said. Strengthening the Annual Ministerial Review and its focus on key issues related to the Goals ensured the Council played a vital role. “While we have made important progress in follow-up to major conferences and summits, including the Millennium Summit, much more needs to be done. The United States looks forward to continuing the dialogue with other Member States on how to achieve the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves,” he said.
MARCO ROSSI ( Switzerland), speaking on the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, said great progress had been made since the 2006 publication of the High-Level Panel report on system-wide coherence, recalling that United Nations development assistance had become more relevant through the “Delivering as One” approach. Country evaluations conducted by “One UN” pilot countries showed that the approach was contributing to renewed Government leadership of United Nations-backed programmes and better alignment with national priorities. However, the United Nations operational system must improve how partner capacities were assessed and strengthened, how risks were detected and managed, and how development results were monitored and evaluated. He insisted on the need to harmonize evidence-based programming, monitoring and evaluation systems within and across the agencies.
Switzerland looked forward to the upcoming evaluation of the experiences of countries that had voluntarily engaged in the reform process, he said, whose findings would complement existing information on the experience of the United Nations operational system in implementing reform at the country level. Sustained political will was instrumental to allowing that reform to succeed, and must go hand in hand with commitment by United Nations agencies and strong country-level leadership. States must ensure they continued to guide the system with action-oriented decisions. Switzerland expected that individual agencies, and the United Nations Development Group, would continue to find ways for improving United Nations country teams. The role of Resident Coordinators was vital in that regard and he urged the Group to put in place incentives and selection mechanisms to ensure Coordinator positions were granted the most competent staff. Also, it would be important for the new Executive Board of UN Women to provide outstanding operational and technical guidance to ensure that new entity was able to improve women’s lives.
AHMED ALKWARI (Qatar), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said the main challenge lay in implementing United Nations resolutions, and in that context, called for working together to implement the global development programme, including the Millennium Development Goals. The focus must be on sustainable development and its main economic, social and ecological pillars. Indeed, that was the common responsibility on which the United Nations credibility was based. To reach the Goals, sustainable growth must be reinforced, jobs provided, incomes increased and poverty effectively addressed. The partnership established in Monterrey also must be reinforced.
Developing countries, including in sub-Saharan Africa, did not have the means for achieving the Goals by 2015, he continued. Indeed, two thirds of the path had been walked towards 2015, but the “march is not the same”. The goal was to find international partnerships and new mechanisms for assisting in areas, such as education, health and decent work. The challenges today were larger than what had been envisioned at the Monterrey conference on development financing in 2002. The repercussions of financial problems in the world’s largest country had lowered productivity in all countries. The least developed countries were the most vulnerable. Financial transfers to those countries had been lowered by half. Even revenues in oil-producing countries had fallen. Nonetheless, Qatar had allocated 0.7 per cent in financial assistance to help economic and health sectors.
ARIEL TAN ( Singapore) said there were direct and indirect connections between the eight Millennium Goals, such that progress in one area often had a positive effect on others. Similarly, there was correlation between sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and each of those Goals. To that end, Singapore believed progress on the Millennium Development Goals front would in turn help promote economic growth. For instance, gender equality in all spheres, including in education and the workforce, could reduce poverty and drive economic growth. It was therefore useful for countries, in pursuing economic growth and attainment of the Goals, to take into account that close, complex, and often positive relationship, in their national development plans and strategies.
She said in today’s real world of scarce resources, countries did not have to chose between environmental sustainability and economic growth as they needed to work smarter to find complementarities and achieve both because there would be no good long-term prospects for one without the other. Thus, her country saw benefits in greater cross-regional exchanges of views and expertise on that issue, she observed, adding that the United Nations, with its universal membership, deep expertise, and the wide reach of its institutions, was well-placed to facilitate that exchange.
While the food, fuel and financial crises of recent years had significantly slowed down development efforts, key regions had shown strong improvement in niche areas. She cited Africa and Latin America as having made great strides towards education and gender equality from which Asia could learn valuable lessons. She added that open markets and free trade were lynchpins of Asia’s growth, and as such, the region’s belief in the importance of an open international trading system was undiminished despite the fact that the Doha Development Round had stalled.
MIKHAIL Y. SAVOSTIANOV ( Russian Federation) stated that ensuring the focused and effective action of health-care systems had been one of the major purposes of the Millennium Summit. As for preventing and combating non-communicable diseases, he said their impact on human development merited the Organization’s increased focus. Apart from causing many millions of deaths each year, non-communicable diseases were related to a lowering and deterioration of life expectancy, as well as quality of life, and placed a new burden on economic conditions. He said that the main risk factors, including smoking, alcohol abuse and lack of physical activity, had been clearly established. Combating non-communicable diseases, however, could only be effectively achieved by using an inter-sectoral approach. The WHO 2008-2013 Action Plan was an effective start to achieving this goal.
He went on to say that the resolution by which the General Assembly to hold a high-level meeting on the topic of non-communicable diseases in 2011, was also an important first step in this area. The success of that event would depend on the preparation process and overall organization — in which the Russians supported the involvement of WHO. An important contribution on advancing international dialogue would also be made by the first conference on healthy lifestyles and non-communicable diseases in 2011. In General Assembly resolution 64/265 (2010), the Assembly, with appreciation, took note of the conference, which would be held in Moscow. An open, transparent and inclusive preparatory process, with the broad participation of countries, would be carried out, and 22 experts from all regions would be involved. The conference would likely be held in the format of a plenary meeting, with working groups and parallel round tables. A ministerial declaration would be adopted at the end of the conference. A related concept paper, draft agenda and draft programme of work would be drafted and considered shortly.
MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said it was timely to increase discourse on non-communicable diseases as a global challenge. Considerable progress achieved in global health over the past decade showed concerted efforts had produced results; child mortality was on the decline, there was better access to vaccines and life-saving antiretrovirals, and the health workforce had been recognized as the most valuable asset of national health systems. But several of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular those concerning women’s and children’s health and wellbeing, were still far from being reached and required renewed commitment. “We must move ahead in a way that reinforces national and global health systems, while avoiding fragmentation and competition for scarce resources,” he said.
There were useful lessons to be drawn from global health initiatives, including: the importance of designing programmes so they were driven be countries themselves — national Governments must take the lead; the importance of strengthening national health systems to address infectious and non-communicable diseases holistically; and the need to focus on more on service delivery and individual intervention than prevention. He said that from the start, Governments must ensure inclusive partnerships with civil society and the private sector and emphasize value for money and focus on needed actions.
SAAD AL-MEHAINI (Kuwait), reaffirming his Government’s attachment to the outcome document of the meeting of Foreign Minsters of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, held in New York, said that at the recent high-level summit on the status of the Millennium Development Goals, world leaders had agreed that progress was lagging. “We must intensify efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals regarding maternal and child health,” he said. Crises in food and finance, as well as fluctuating energy prices, had made it even more important for developed countries to follow through with their pledge to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP for ODA.
For its part, Kuwait had created a development programme for 2010-2015, he said, and had increased its development assistance. Such assistance to developing countries had also increased to 1.31 per cent of GDP. To combat disease and poverty in Africa, Kuwait had granted $300 million to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Also, $100 million had been allocated to Kuwait’s Decent Living Fund, which guaranteed food and helped to increase harvests, along with other initiatives. Further, the Emir had implemented a support fund for small- and medium-sized enterprises, with $500 million of its capital earmarked to create job opportunities for Arab youth and to combat poverty. Indeed, it was still possible to reach the Goals by 2015, but political will, joint action, and “respectful” commitments were required.
GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN ( Australia), speaking on the “vital issue” of non-communicable diseases, which he said constituted one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century. He noted that the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, in particular in developing counties, was contributing to a widening gap between the rich and poor. To combat non-communicable diseases, Australia’s development agency, AusAID, was working closely with partner agencies by taking such actions as scaling up health programmes and increasing funding. Examples of those actions, including a new tobacco bill, new community health programmes, and programmes to reduce obesity, were under way in various places across Australia.
Recalling the Secretary-General’s new strategy regarding women and children’s health, he noted that Australia was committed to improving the health of those groups and would be spending an additional $1.6 billion in the coming years in that regard. It was also redoubling its efforts to increase access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Finally, he noted that the chronic nature of non-communicable diseases meant that multisectoral efforts across many years would be needed in order to see a true reduction in those diseases.
GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN ( Australia), speaking on the “vital issue” of non-communicable diseases, which he said constituted one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century. He noted that the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, in particular in developing counties, was contributing to a widening gap between the rich and poor.
To combat non-communicable diseases, Australia’s development agency, AusAID, was working closely with partner agencies by taking such actions as scaling up health programmes and increasing funding. Examples of those actions, including a new tobacco bill, new community health programmes, and programmes to reduce obesity, were under way in various places across Australia.
Recalling the Secretary-General’s new strategy regarding women and children’s health, he noted that Australia was committed to improving the health of those groups and would be spending an additional $1.6 billion in the coming years in that regard. It was also redoubling its efforts to increase access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Finally, he noted that the chronic nature of non-communicable diseases meant that multisectoral efforts across many years would be needed in order to see a true reduction in those diseases.
M.S. PURI ( India) said the agenda items for today’s joint debate were central to the collective effort to strengthen the United Nations system and even more relevant for the theme for this year’s Assembly, reaffirming the central role of the Organization in global governance. India was happy to co-sponsor the resolution on the Goals, and recognized the crucial role of the Economic and Social Council in pushing for a comprehensive development agenda at the United Nations through and integrated and coordinated approach.
On the subject of the WHO report, he aligned with the statement by the Chair of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. Like many countries, India was undergoing an “epidemiologic transition”, with the initial high burden of disease and mortality due to infectious diseases gradually giving way to non-communicable diseases, injuries and geriatric problems. It was estimated that 42 per cent of deaths in India were due to non-communicable diseases, and there was emerging evidence that poor people were particularly vulnerable, due to high rates of smoking and tobacco use, occupational hazards, and poor living conditions. The Government had accorded very high priority to health care, formulating various innovative national programmes, but it was imperative that policies on access to safe drugs ensured their affordability for all.
His delegation also welcomed the JIU report on selection of Executive Heads within the United Nations system. “It is a long overdue evaluation of the legal and institutional framework and practices in the selection and appointment of such senior officials,” he said. India firmly believed that relevant legislative bodies should have a greater role in appointments and had repeatedly voiced strong support for a greater say by the Assembly in the process of selecting the Secretary-General. The wider membership must also have “real engagement” in the processes to elect or appoint Executive Heads of the funds and programmes. “We would not like to see it reduced to a mere pro forma exercise, which is regretfully the case at the present, with members given unrealistically tight time frames to react to the Secretary-General’s recommendation,” he said.
ANDER FILIP, Permanent Observer for the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said while the Goals that had originated with the Millennium Declaration were high on its agenda, the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) activities extended to other issues, as well, ranging from HIV/AIDS to least developed countries, climate change and trade, among many others. To support parliamentary engagement in those issues, IPU employed several modalities, some “well-tried and consecrated”, while others were more innovative, which it hoped to put to the test in the coming years.
With the growing practice of Member States to include legislators in national delegations attending major United Nations conferences, IPU had found it valuable to bring those Members of Parliament together to exchange idea and experiences and identify avenues for follow-up action within Parliament. Another modality whereby IPU sought to advance implementation of major global commitments was directed at enhancing the capacity of and institutional mechanisms for parliaments to mainstream the outcomes of international conferences and related obligations, he said.
Another area of particular importance to IPU had to do with the type of role that parliaments could and should play in the review of implementation of existing international commitments. Whether it was the national review of progress towards meeting the Millennium Goals, or international commitments in the area of least developed countries or HIV/AIDS, it was useful when progress reports were also placed on the agenda of parliaments, he stated.
Introduction and Action on Drafts
The Assembly then adopted by consensus resolution on sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth for poverty eradication and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (document A/65/L.12).
Following that action, HASAN MAHMOOD ALI (Bangladesh), introduced a resolution on implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/65/L.8), pointed out that since its tabling, some 21 countries had joined the list of co-sponsors, an indication of the commitment of the entire world community to making the world safe for future generations. Noting that the culture of peace was a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life that rejected violence and prevented conflicts through dialogue among individuals, groups and nations, she said her delegation believed that a world order that was informed by such a culture was conducive to the attainment of development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
As the International Decade for a Culture of Peace came to an end, it was necessary to take stock of what had been achieved, and she believed that the ten-year long exercise had had some impact on psyche of the international community to make a peaceful world for all. Further, she urged that the days ahead needed to focus on implementation of the resolution in the belief that it would advance the culture of peace in the eight areas of cooperation. One such area that needed to be stressed was the raising of public awareness through the dissemination of public information on Culture of Peace for which the United Nations’ Department of Public Information needed to take a special information strategy in promoting. For that, Bangladesh believed adequate resources needed to be placed at that Department’s disposal. At the national level, respective Governments could proceed with that by their active cooperation with both print and electronic media in collaboration with respective ministries.
The Assembly then adopted that resolution by consensus.
It next, turned its attention to the draft resolution on the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/65/L.13), introduced by HERMAN SCHAPER (Netherlands), who welcomed the four countries which recently had become a party to the Rome Statute, bringing the total number of States that had ratified or acceded to it to 114. The Court’s creation was the most significant development in recent decades in the long, ongoing struggle to eradicate impunity. The main outcome of the 31 May to 11 June Review Conference of the Rome Statute was the adoption of amendments to define the crime of aggression and establish conditions under which the Court could exercise jurisdiction vis-à-vis that crime.
As the Court President had pointed out in the report, despite recent arrest of an accused, the situation related to outstanding arrest warrants was “deeply troubling”, he said. If States did not cooperate with the Court, in line with their legal obligations, it would be unable to fulfil its mandate and “impunity will continue to flourish”. Thus, State cooperation was essential. The resolution today served three main goals: to provide political support for the Court; to underline the importance of the relationship between the Court and the United Nations, on the basis of the Relationship Agreement; and to remind States, as well as international and regional organizations, of the need to cooperate with the Court in carrying out its activities. He expressed hope it would be adopted by consensus.
Speaking ahead of action on that resolution, the representative of Sudan said his delegation disassociated itself from the text, as it was greatly disappointed about “distorted information” regarding his country in the annual report of the International Criminal Court. The Court’s disguised politicization and double standards made Sudan adamant about its decision not to cooperate with it. The referral of the case of Darfur by the Security Council to the Court was heavily influenced by political considerations of some countries and not based on legal reasoning.
“It is without a shadow of a doubt that politicization of the concept of justice will eventually lead to militarization of international relations and disregard for multilateralism, along with the erosion of commitment towards the United Nations Charter and the cardinal principles of international law,” he said. Targeting of some African Heads of State and other African officials entitled to jurisdictional immunities was an affront to the sovereign equality of African States. The statement by the Court regarding the exercise of jurisdiction upon an acting Head of State without obtaining cooperation from the State concerned, clearly demonstrated abuse of powers invested in the prosecutor of the Court, he said.
The Assembly then adopted by consensus the resolution on the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/65/L.13).
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