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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

New York, 8 June 2007 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at the United Nations Population Awards ceremony

I am delighted and honoured to participate in the 2007 United Nations Population Award Ceremony.

Today, we celebrate outstanding contributions to the awareness of population questions or to their solutions. And we recognize individuals and institutions who, through their work and achievements, are at the forefront of human progress and development. They are leaders not only on population issues, but also in our race to the Millennium Development Goals, especially the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

In the 26 years since it was founded, this Award has firmly established itself as one of the development community's most respected recognitions. Let me use this opportunity to acknowledge the inter-governmental Committee for the United Nations Population Award. Their hard work and scrupulous rigor is the ultimate guarantor of the integrity of the selection process. Its results are evident: a long list of distinguished laureates who have strongly influenced development thinking and processes; the international community's strong support for this event; and, above all, the remarkable field of nominees year after year.

Of course, I understand that this year's nominees are particularly exceptional. That is why, instead of two laureates, this time around the Committee felt compelled to select four.

They are, in the individual category, Dr. Hossein Malek Afzali of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Dr. Allan Rosenfield of the United States of America, and, in the Institutional Category, Le Comité National de Population of Algeria and the National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia.

Dr. Afzali, a Deputy Minister for Health and Medical Education, has been recognized for his success in using advocacy to influence policymakers and religious leaders in his country. Iran's family planning programme, which bears his imprint, has been remarkably successful: in just over two decades, it has helped reduce Iran's overall fertility rate by more than two thirds.

Our other individual honouree, Dr. Rosenfeld, is a leading professor at Columbia University's School of Public Health. He has designed groundbreaking clinical, community-based and school centred reproductive health programmes in northern Manhattan. In addition, his research also led the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Programme which currently support more than 80 projects in some 50 countries.

In today's second category, Le Comité National de Population has been a strong and consistent advocate for a holistic and strategic population policy in Algeria. Its advocacy and efforts have been crucial in helping moderate the rate of population growth in that country.

The National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia has a similarly impressive record. It has promoted demographic research, population trend monitoring and vigorous advocacy and awareness programmes. Its success is reflected in the high rate of development experienced by Malaysia.

Please join me in giving all our honourees a hand.

These individuals and institutions continue the United Nations Population Award's strong tradition of honouring commitment to, and excellence in, population issues. But each of them also exemplifies the cross-cutting nature of this broad subject. Between them, our laureates are leading contributors to the fields of family planning, access to reproductive health services, maternal and child health, and the prevention of HIV and AIDS.

Their work highlight the importance of empowering people in the most basic areas of their lives: planning or managing pregnancies, limiting unsafe abortions, practising responsible sexual behaviour, and reversing the deadly tide of AIDS. These are the most crucial milestones on the road to prosperity. They remain the ultimate measures of human progress.

On behalf of the United Nations, I congratulate our honourees. And I hope that this recognition encourages them to aim even higher, and to reach even farther.

Thank you very much.

Statements on 8 June 2007