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26 June - 2 July, 2004

 

Table Of Contents

Peace Missions Can Benefit From Civil Groups' Input, Secretary-General Tells Security Council 1

Hailing the Security Council's efforts to strengthen its connection with civil society organizations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 22 June said their input could enhance the work of United Nations peace operations.

"I believe that Council members can benefit from the expertise, focus and insight which civil society groups bring to the table," Mr. Annan said as the 15-member body began a debate on the issue.

"The partnership between the United Nations and civil society is therefore not an option; it is a necessity," he told the session chaired by Delia Domingo-Albert, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, which currently holds the Council's rotating presidency.

For peacebuilding missions to be effective, Mr. Annan said, they should work with and strengthen those civil society forces that are helping ordinary people to voice their concerns, and to act on them effectively.

"The aim must be to create a synergy with those civil society groups that are bridge-builders, truth-finders, watchdogs, human rights defenders, and agents of social protection and economic revitalization," he said.

Mr. Annan stressed that there should be a two-way dialogue between the UN and civil society _ "not so one can direct the other, but to ensure that our efforts complement one another."

In that vein, civil society organizations should be included in the UN's deliberative processes, including those of the Council, said Mr. Annan. He pledged to study a new report by a high-level panel examining the issue and urged Council members to consider the study's recommendations as well.

 

UN Should Open Itself Further To Involve Civil Society, High-Level Panel Says 2

As the world's problems grow ever-more complex, the United Nations should stop limiting its decision-making processes exclusively to governments and instead open its deliberations to greater involvement by civil society groups and the private sector, a blue-ribbon panel recommends in a new report released on 21 June.

The Chairman of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, said the growing participation and influence of non-State actors is enhancing democracy and reshaping multilateralism.

"Civil society organizations are the prime movers of some of the most innovative initiatives to deal with emerging global trends," he said at a press briefing on the launch of the report in New York. "Given how the world has changed, constructively engaging with civil society is a necessity for the United Nations."

The report, entitled "We the Peoples: Civil Society, the United Nations and 

Global Governance," refers to the sometimes-fraught relationship between civil society groups, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governments at the UN.

While this relationship has strengthened greatly and multiplied over the years, "difficulties and tensions have arisen, particularly in the deliberative process," the report notes.

"Governments do not always welcome sharing what has traditionally been their preserve," it says. "At the same time, many in civil society are becoming frustrated; they can speak in the UN but question whether anyone is listening, or whether their participation has any impact on outcomes."

The report argues for a paradigm shift in how the UN sees itself, saying the Organization should foster "multi-constituency" processes that incorporate the perspectives and abilities of citizen groups, policy advocates, businesses, local governments and parliamentarians. 

"We see the dialogue and the collaboration with non-State actors not as a threat to governments but as a powerful way to reinvigorate the intergovernmental process," Mr. Cardoso told the briefing.

The Panel, appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in February 2003, recommends that the General Assembly include civil society organizations more regularly in its affairs. It also calls for increased civil society dialogues with the Security Council and the appointment of a senior UN official to promote engagement with civil society.

In addition to Mr. Cardoso, Panel members are affiliated with governments, NGOs, academia and the private sector and include Bagher Asadi of Iran, Manuel Castells of Spain, Birgitta Dahl of Sweden, Peggy Dulany of the United States, André Erdös of Hungary, Asma Khader of Jordan, Juan Mayr of Colombia, Malini Mehra of India, Kumi Naidoo of South Africa, Mary Racelis of the Philippines, Prakash Ratilal of Mozambique and Aminata Traoré of Mali.

 

World Must Speak Out Against Anti-Semitism, Sec-Gen Tells UN Seminar 3

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 21 June issued a strong call for vigilance against anti-Semitism as he opened a seminar at United Nations Headquarters in New York as part of a series on "Unlearning Intolerance" being hosted by the world body.

"The rise of anti-Semitism anywhere is a threat to people everywhere," he said. "Thus, in fighting anti-Semitism we fight for the future of all humanity."

The Secretary-General acknowledged that the UN's own record on anti-Semitism has at times fallen short of the Organization's ideals. "The General Assembly resolution of 1975, equating Zionism with racism, was an especially unfortunate decision. I am glad that it has since been rescinded" _ in 1991.

At the same time, he called for stepped-up efforts within the UN to combat the problem. "All parts of the Secretariat should be vigilant," he said.

He noted that the UN Commission on Human Rights has asked its Special Rapporteur on contemporary form of racism, Doudou Diène, to examine the situation of Muslim and Arab peoples in various parts of the world. "Are not Jews entitled to the same degree of concern and protection?" Mr. Annan asked.

On the wider political context, the Secretary-General drew a distinction with respect to the situation in the Middle East. "When we seek justice for the Palestinians _ as we must _ let us firmly disavow anyone who tries to use that cause to incite hatred against Jews, in Israel and elsewhere," he said.

He also lauded the example of the 55-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which recently adopted a declaration condemning "without reserve all manifestations of anti-Semitism and all other acts of intolerance, incitement, harassment, or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin, or religious beliefs, wherever they occur."

"We must make this vision a reality while we still have survivors of the holocaust among us," Mr. Annan said, introducing one such individual, Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Wiesel referred directly to his personal experience to illustrate the deadly nature of the problem. "We saw our parents, our friends die because of anti-Semitism," he said.

Mr. Wiesel, a designated UN Messenger of Peace, called on the world body to fight anti-Semitism with vigour, talent, imagination and devotion. He also appealed to national leaders everywhere to fulfill the UN's mission and use its political and moral authority to outlaw the plague of anti-Semitism.

The next seminar, set for around January 2005, will deal with the problem of Islamophobia.

 

Secretary-General Urges States To Unite In Support Of International Law  4

The world's States must unite and strengthen their commitment to upholding international law and defending the principles of the United Nations Charter, or risk giving "the enemies of order and human rights" a victory, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned on 23 June.

In a message delivered by his aide to the Third Forum for Debate on the "The Role of the UN in the 21st Century and the Primacy of International Law," held in Salamanca, Spain, Mr. Annan urged nations to make the UN a more effective vehicle for responding to global threats.

Last year Mr. Annan appointed a High-Level Panel of eminent persons to examine the biggest threats and challenges facing the world, and to suggest what reforms of the UN are necessary to better respond to the threats.

Mr. Annan said that over the past 10 years, while the international community has become less willing to tolerate large-scale human rights abuses, it has been divided on how to deal with such global threats as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

If such divisions continue, the Secretary-General warned, this "could result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification."

Mr. Annan said it was vital to strengthen the institutions in place to enforce international law, citing the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an example and urging countries that have not ratified its Statute to do so.

"To weaken our commitment to international law would be to hand the enemies of order and human rights a victory that they cannot achieve on their own," he cautioned.

 

US Withdraws Resolution On Immunity For Troops In UN Peace Operations 5

The United States announced on 23 June that it would not proceed with a Security Council resolution that would have extended, for a third consecutive year, the immunity of some United Nations peacekeepers from prosecution by the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

Reacting to the US decision, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said through his spokesman the move would help maintain the Council's unity "at a time when it faces difficult challenges."

Last month the US introduced a text to renew the peacekeepers' exemption from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in The Hague. First adopted in July 2002, and renewed last year, the resolution shields members of UN peacekeeping missions who come from nations which have not ratified the treaty setting up the ICC from investigation or prosecution. It is due to expire on 30 June.

In a statement, the Deputy US Representative to the UN, Ambassador James B. Cunningham, said that while Washington still held the same concerns about the ICC that led to the resolution in 2002, it "has decided not to proceed with further consideration and action on the draft at this time to avoid a prolonged and divisive debate."

Ambassador Cunningham said the US would consider the risk of review by the ICC in deciding its future contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. He added that the US would continue to seek bilateral agreements with individual Member States to protect US nationals from the reach of the ICC.

The ICC will be able to try individuals of war crimes such as genocide, mass murder and torture committed after 1 July 2002, when it formally came into existence. It will try individuals from States that are unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction. Over 90 countries have ratified the Statute and dozens of others have signed, indicating their intention to ratify.

Last week Mr. Annan said that if the exemption from prosecution was extended, it would hurt the credibility of the Security Council and the UN.

"[The] blanket exemption is wrong. It is of dubious judicial value, and I don't think it should be encouraged by the Council…I think it would be unfortunate for one to press for such an exemption, given the [recent reports of] prisoner abuse in Iraq," he said.

 

S-G Condemns Murder Of Korean Interpreter Abducted In Iraq 6

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 22 June condemned the murder of Kim Sun-Il, an interpreter from the Republic of Korea who was working for a trade company in Iraq when he was abducted last week.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan said he was appalled by the killing of Mr. Kim.

Mr. Annan "condemns in the strongest terms this heartless crime, which no political or other cause can justify," the statement said, adding the Secretary-General appealed for the immediate and safe release of all hostages being held in Iraq.

The Secretary-General also offered his condolences to the family of Mr. Kim and to the Government of the Republic of Korea.

 

Prendergast: `Desperate' Need For Political Solution To Middle East Conflict 7

Events in the past month showed yet again how desperately the people of the Middle East need a political solution to their long conflict, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council on 23 June.

Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said in an open briefing that Israeli military operations in the occupied Palestinian territory could not provide the real security that would come only from a negotiated settlement. At the same time, he added, the Palestinian 

Authority must act on its obligations under the Road Map.

"Force will achieve neither a viable and independent Palestinian state nor a secure and recognized Israel," Mr. Prendergast said, emphasizing that there would be no peace unless the parties, the region and the wider international community were ready to play their parts.

On the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Mr. Prendergast stressed that the international community's involvement would be crucial to an effective hand-over _ in terms of significant donor support for the Palestinians and as well as in the political and the security aspects.

He said the rocky road to peace would continue to be fraught with difficulties and a constant danger of breakdowns and setbacks. "To choose peace is to choose the difficult, the road less travelled, but the alternative is a continued long, slow, inevitable descent into a landscape full of violence, hatred and bloodshed," he said.

 

Tharoor: Views Of Ordinary People On Middle East Peace Count Too 8

When it comes to bringing about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, the views and actions of ordinary people counted, a senior United Nations official said at the conclusion of a recent international seminar on how civil society and the media can promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Summing up two days of intense discussions on the role of civil society in the Middle East peace process, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor said while political leaders might make policy decisions, those decisions must have the respect and endorsement of ordinary people if the desired outcomes were to be achieved in the long term.

Mr. Tharoor, who moderated the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East held in Beijing, noted that participants had talked about how best to inform the world at-large and the people of the region, through the media, about what was happening.

Discussion had also focused on how civil society initiatives, such as the Geneva Accords and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh Initiative, had challenged the accepted political wisdom by addressing thorny issues that could not be avoided if a just and lasting peace were to be attained, he said.

Clearly, Mr. Tharoor said, there was some way to go before the question of Palestine would be answered. Those at the United Nations believed that the Road Map would serve as a sound basis for that journey, but its implementation would require the political will, not only of political leaders, but also of the people.

In addition, civil society had much to contribute in that regard, he said, adding that he hoped the press would use its creativity and professional skills to contribute to peace in that long-embattled region, by giving the world information it needed, as well as hope.

The seminar, which ended on 17 June, was the 12th since 1991 in a series organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in response to General Assembly resolutions. The series discusses how civil society and the media can promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and the overall peace process, as well as the current state of the Road Map peace plan.

 

IAEA Deplores Iran's Lack Of Cooperation On Nuclear Programme 9

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors adopted a resolution on 18 June deploring the fact that, overall, Iran's cooperation with it has not been as "full, timely and proactive" as it should have been.

The resolution unanimously approved by the 35-member Board underlined that, with the passage of time, "it is becoming ever more important that Iran work proactively to enable the Agency to gain a full understanding of Iran's enrichment programme by providing all relevant information."

The resolution also called on Iran to urgently take all necessary steps to help resolve all of the IAEA's outstanding questions, including those related to uranium contamination found at various locations in the country, and the nature and scope of its P-2 centrifuge programme.

"Make no mistake we have been making very good process in understanding the nature and extent of Iran's nuclear programme," IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said at a press conference in Vienna.

"But at the same time, as I have indicated and the Board confirms that, we still have an important, central question, and that is has Iran declared fully to us its enrichment programme? That is really the issue which is still before us. The issue that I would like to see accelerated, with active coorperation on the part of Iran," he added.

 

S-G Stresses Urgency Of Resolving Crisis In Darfur, Sudan 10

Any peace accord in southern Sudan will be fragile unless the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region in the country's west is also resolved, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said.

In a recent interview with UN Radio, Mr. Annan said the Organization is accelerating its humanitarian assistance to help more than 1 million people who have become internally displaced in Darfur since early last year, as well as at least 150,000 refugees who have fled into neighbouring Chad.

Urging UN Member States to pool their resources to help civilians affected by the civil conflict and militia attacks in Darfur, he said the international community must demand the Sudanese Government act to help stop the suffering.

"It is the responsibility of the Government to protect but if the Government can't do it, it should be prepared to ask for the help of the international community," he said. "And the international community must insist that these people be protected."

The Secretary-General said he had been talking frequently with the Khartoum Government to pressure the authorities to do more, and would soon personally visit Sudan to further examine the situation in Darfur.

Mr. Annan said it was "unfair" to criticize the UN involvement. "The tendency sometimes is to say that the UN is not doing enough, or the Secretary-General has not done enough," he said, pointing out that "the political will to act" is needed.

The Secretary-General also referred to his personal efforts to intervene. "It was because of my pressure that they opened up and offered visas, not only to the UN, but also to the humanitarian agencies, and the Sudanese authorities have indicated that they will allow supplies and equipment to come in unimpeded."

Mr. Annan added: "We should avoid the situations where we allow Member States to hide behind their Secretary-General and use him as an alibi for their own inaction."

 

Former Dutch Environment Minister Named UN Envoy For Sudan 11

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has informed the Security Council that he intends to appoint Jan Pronk of the Netherlands his Special Representative for Sudan and head of the peace support operation that may soon be authorized by the Council, a UN spokesperson said on 18 June.

A response from the Council was expected soon, spokesperson Marie Okabe added.

In addition to having been Environment Minister and three-time Minister of Development Cooperation in the Dutch Government, Mr. Pronk also has served in various capacities with the United Nations, including as 

Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Secretariat, Chair of the UN Conference of Parties of the Convention on Climate Change, and the Secretary-General's Special Envoy to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

 

UN Envoy Expresses Concern Over Deteriorating Security In Afghanistan 12

Voicing concern over the volatile security situation in Afghanistan, the top United Nations envoy to the country on 21 June urged NATO to consider the importance of stability there, especially in the run-up to planned elections later this year.

Speaking to reporters in the capital Kabul, Jean Arnault, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), cited a series of violent and sometimes deadly attacks in the past three weeks as evidence that the situation "has become more volatile."

On 20 June, three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at an electoral office close to Kabul. On 18 June there was a similar attack in Kandahar in the country's south. On 9 June, near Kunduz in the north, 11 Chinese construction workers and their local guard were killed after an ambush on their living compound.

"We are now facing direct attacks with fairly heavy weapons against the office of the electoral process," he said. "This is clearly an attempt at undermining the process and again it stresses how important it is for the international community to do more in order to assist this process."

National presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in September. Voter registration is currently taking place across the country.

As the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization prepare to gather in the coming days in Istanbul, where they are slated to take a decision on further troop deployment in Afghanistan, Mr. Arnault urged the alliance to consider the country's pressing security concerns during the electoral process.

He also reminded NATO of the need to continue helping former fighters in Afghanistan to rejoin society.

On the positive side, Mr. Arnault said that the quickening pace of voter registration in recent weeks indicates that Afghans strongly desire political participation, despite the threats from extremists.

Over 4.1 million Afghans _ about a third of them women _ have now registered, with daily figures topping 101,000 twice last week. Afghan authorities estimate there are 9.5 million potential eligible voters.

Mr. Arnault said the fast pace "confirms that an electoral process is something that is meaningful to the overwhelming majority of the people."

 

UN Security Council Warns Against Belligerence In Eastern DR Of Congo 13

Condemning "in the strongest terms" any outside involvement in the volatile situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations Security Council on 22 June urged Secretary-General Kofi Annan to determine whether the UN mission there needs "a possible rapid reaction capability."

In a Presidential statement adopted following closed-door consultations, the Council also warned all parties against any attempt at fighting one another or violating the embargo against financial or military assistance imposed on the eastern DRC.

An estimated 31,000 Congolese have fled to Burundi since an insurgency, led by dissident Gen. Laurent Nkunda and Col. Jules Mutebusi, erupted in late May. The rebels briefly held the town of Bukavu in early June. Another 3,000 refugees escaped to Rwanda, but that country largely closed its borders.

The refugees feared they would be caught in fighting between Congolese government troops and the ethnic-Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) rebels, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.

The statement, read out by the Council president for June, Ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr. of the Philippines, called on the DRC's Transitional Government and the Government of Rwanda to respond immediately to efforts by the UN mission (MONUC) to establish "a joint verification mechanism for their common security, including verification of cross-border movements," he said.

The Security Council urged Rwanda not to provide any practical or political support to armed groups in the DRC, particularly those led by Gen. Nkunda and Col. Mutebusi, and it strongly encouraged the leaders of DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi "to work together to reduce tensions and restore confidence in the region."

The Council also reminded Uganda not to provide military support for armed Congolese groups and called on Burundi to prevent support going from its territory to armed groups in neighbouring DRC.

The DRC Government of National Unity and Transition should "reverse the current climate of impunity" by investigating the human rights abuses and deaths of innocent civilians and holding the perpetrators to account, Mr. Baja said.

 

WHO: Poor management of medical waste poses a real threat to public health  14

In early January 2003, a news agency based in Delhi reported:

Used syringes and disposable medical equipment, weighing more than 300 quintals, were seized and three persons were arrested in this connection in Nangloi this evening. The material had been collected from several hospitals and was to be sold. The syringes, nozzles and surgical equipment had been cleaned and neatly packed into 200 gunny bags, which were stored in two plots. The accused said that every 15-20 days, truckloads of this material would be sent to buyers.

Unsafe management of medical waste poses a series of life threatening risks- for all health personnel and patients intra-muros, and also to the general public, extra-muros. Most major hospitals may have disposal facilities but small private hospitals may not because of costs involved. Consequently, used plastic syringes and transfusion pipes reach rag pickers who siphon them off to scrap dealers. These scrap dealers get them recycled back into the market, without disinfections, thus posing a grave danger to the society.

It is because of that high risk that through the Basel Convention, the United Nations have officially classified health care waste to be the second most hazardous waste, after radioactive waste

The main bottleneck to sound healthcare waste management programme is the lack of awareness and appropriate skills, insufficient resource allocation and lack of adequate equipment.

Proper management of hospital waste would result in reduced hospital-acquired infection, a notable reduction of health hazards posed by infectious sharps and a lesser adverse impact on the environment.

Impacts of improper waste management are global and not restricted by boundaries or regions. SEAR countries form the most populous part of the globe and indiscretions in SEAR would have heavy and adverse impact, globally.

According to WHO estimates, the SEAR countries together, produce some 350,000, tons of HCW per year, close to 1000 tons a day (based on 1 kg /bed/ day). As it is not segregated at source, all of it is to be considered hazardous despite the fact that only 10 _ 20 % is infectious in nature.

World Bank estimates the population in the 11 countries in the SEA Region (Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar,Nepal,S at 1,534,207,000 in 2000; it is due to increase by 12,5 % to 1,766,030,000 by 2010. The daily production of bio medical wastes in the region is close to a thousand metric tons

Bio_Medical Waste being generated in India from 0.6 million beds is about 600 MT. This does not include the generation of waste from a very large number of unregistered nursing homes and the practicing quacks. India also has more than 21000 Primary Health Centers. Bio _ Medical waste (Management and Handling) Rules were promulgated in the year 1998. The implementation so far, is far from satisfactory. Awareness and will to implement is low.

Eleven WHO aided projects has helped in spread of awareness and there are some success stories, like the Air Force Hospital Bangalore. Training is in the initial stages, and needs to be strengthened as well as propagated. There are more than a million rag _ pickers who do not use any protection. Recycling of syringes and the plastics used in the medical management is a thriving business of millions of rupees. Needle _ stick injury is a common occurrence not only amongst the rag _ pickers but also amongst the health care workers _ highest incidence being amongst the paramedical staff.

Some of the NGOs like `Srishti' and some of the professional bodies like the Indian Society of Hospital Waste Management (ISHWM) have been very proactive in this field. As in other developing countries, in India also there is no single agency handling the subject of Bio _ Medical Waste. It would be pertinent to mention here that the Govt. of India set the deadline for all hospitals and nursing homes with 500 or more beds each to comply with the "Bio-medical Waste Management and Handling rules (BMW Rules, 1998)", by June 2001. It has therefore become necessary to train and educate various categories of health professionals with a view to meet the statutory and legal requirements across the country

GOI and WHO Health Care Waste Management Programme

The GOI _ WHO HCWM programme started in 1998, aims to develop a national framework for hospital waste management and to demonstrate safe management of hospital wastes through pilot projects in selected hospitals

The next phase of the project was to establish hospital waste demonstration projects in 10 selected hospitals in various parts of the country. The selected hospitals had a bed strength ranging from 500 to 1000 beds.

Some lessons learnt:

h Discreet training activities have succeeded in raising awareness in most of the 10 hospitals, but unsafe waste handling practices have not been completely eliminated.

h Not all participating hospitals mobilized their own resources in support of sound hospital waste management.

h Conditions remain favourable for the illegal reuse and recycling of infectious hospital waste.

h Sustained education and training activities only targeted staff directly involved with waste generation and handling, Medical directors, hospital administrators, purchase agents and suppliers, and even the consumers of hospital services were not addressed.

h Improvements in waste management at the hospitals need to be supplemented by municipal authorities to provide adequate infrastructure and services for safe transportation, treatment and final disposal of hospital wastes.

h Pioneering work has been done at the Command Hospital Air Force Bangalore. Apart from laying down a successful model for hospital waste management system, the hospital has forged ahead in imparting training to paramedicals, nurses and doctors. Regular courses are now being run at the hospital.

h A major achievement has been the creation of the Indian Society of Hospital Waste Management (ISHWM). Formed in 2000 by the principal investigator of the WHO project at Air Force Hospital Bangalore (AVM L.K. Verma), the society has notably held national HCWM conferences (May 2000, New Delhi; May 2001, Bangalore; April 2002, Jaipur). The ISHWM has about 130 members from all over India and has expertise and experience at the conceptual plane, training and fieldwork levels

 

GLOBAL COMPACT  15

Secretary-General Appeals To Businesses To Work With UN To Make World Fairer, Stable Place  

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 24 June appealed to business and labour leaders to work together and with the United Nations to reduce global risks and to help make the world a fairer and more stable place.

"Perhaps no one has more at stake than the business community itself," the Secretary-General said in opening remarks at the one-day Global Compact Leaders Summit, which is examining the impact of the initiative he launched in 1999 to promote better corporate practices in human rights, labour and the environment.

"You have helped drive globalization [and] have benefitted greatly from it. Your vision, strategies, and organization embody it. And you have even more to hope from it in the future," he told the largest and highest-level gathering of business, labour and civil society leaders ever held at the United Nations.

Mr. Annan noted that from an initial group of fewer than 50 firms, the Compact has grown over the last four years to encompass more than 1,500 businesses from 70 countries. It also includes the major international labour federations, representing more than 150 million workers worldwide. Participants also have agreed to include a 10th principle dealing with corruption, reflecting the recently adopted UN treaty on that issue.

Nevertheless, he said, existing commitments within the Compact need to be more fully integrated into mainstream business strategies and practices, and the Compact's activities must also enable more companies _ and more people _ to play an effective part at the local level.

The Compact should also have a governance structure in which leaders from all participating sectors play an active part to allow its potential to be fully sustained, and it must also contribute to improved public governance, at both national and global levels, if it is to bring about beneficial changes, the Secretary-General stressed.

However, with threats to globalization much more real now than before, and international terrorism an unmistakable threat to peace, stability and open borders, it was incumbent on all stakeholders "to protect our common space, building on what unites us," he said.

"Our fragile global order stands in jeopardy today. Securing its future requires your resources and capacities, your advocacy, and your leadership. It calls for the unique contributions that only private enterprise can make to the creation of public value, at home and abroad," he declared.  

"So I ask all of you to work together _ business, civil society, labour and governments and, of course, us _ and to work with the United Nations, to reduce the global risks we all face, and to realize the promise of a fairer more stable world," he said.

 

Corporate Leaders At UN Summit Pledge To Battle Graft And Corruption 16

Chief executives from around the globe agreed on 24 June to battle graft and corruption in addition to recommitting themselves to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Global Compact initiative, which promotes good corporate practices in human rights, labour and the environment.

During a day that heard a speech from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as well as roundtables discussions and press conferences that examined the plan's impact, participants at the Global Compact Leaders Summit adopted a simple statement that "business should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery."

Other pledges made during the event include those promising to defend human rights in conflict zones, ensuring decent working conditions and implementing "no-bribe" policies.

Summing up the session, which drew more than 400 corporate executives, government officials and civil society leaders for the largest and highest-level gathering ever held at the United Nations, Mr. Annan said it had ended with "reinvigorated commitments" to the Global Compact and with a deeper understanding of the venture and "where we hope to take it."

"We have addressed the challenges facing the Global Compact as partners, transforming our differences and tensions into constructive strategies for action," he said in closing remarks. "You have shown that, even in an era of uncertainty and fear, business, labour, civil society and governments can overcome their divisions, and build on what they have in common."  

 

UNEP: Attention To Social And Environmental Issues Key To Business Success 17

Environmental and social issues need to be integrated into business practices or companies across the globe risk a long-term threat to shareholder value, says a new report released on 24 June by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Launched in conjunction with the Global Compact Leaders Summit at UN Headquarters in New York, the report is the first to study the financial impact of environmental, social and corporate considerations as they relate to the portfolio management of mutual, pension and other institutional funds.

The report, "The Materiality of Social, Environmental and Corporate Governance Issues to Equity Pricing," covers 11 business sectors and was compiled by a dozen fund managers representing $1.6 trillion in assets.

Produced for UNEP's Finance Initiative Asset Management Working Group, the study finds that environmental, social and corporate governance issues affect long-term shareholder value, in some cases profoundly. It also concludes that financial research is hindered both due to the lack of reporting on the part of many companies concerning those issues and because of insufficient disclosure in annual reports.

According to the report, aviation, insurance, oil and gas, and utility companies already face material threats linked to climate change, while some sectors are witnessing evolving opportunities in the form of new "carbon markets."

 

UN To Align Managerial Practices More Closely With Global Compact  18

The United Nations on 23 June said it was undertaking an effort to integrate the principles of the Global Compact _ which promote better corporate practices in human rights, labour and the environment _ into its own internal operations.

The announcement comes on the eve of the largest-ever summit of corporate leaders, government officials and civil society representatives to assess what the Compact has achieved in its five years of existence, and determine what more can be done to deepen its impact.

In a letter addressed to UN staff, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Catherine Bertini, observed that "the United Nations should always lead by example, and be ready to comply with the same requests it makes of others."

She said that "although the United Nations does not knowingly contravene the Compact's principles in its administrative practices, the Organization could and should be far more explicit in integrating the principles into its administrative processes."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Global Compact in 1999 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. At that time the United Nations considered whether any changes in its own managerial and administrative practices would be necessary and decided that only a limited number of steps were required, primarily an effort to educate potential suppliers to the United Nations about the Global Compact and its principles, Ms. Bertini said.

Since then, hundreds of businesses from around the world have become involved, and in February, the General Assembly adopted a resolution supporting the Compact as part of the work of the United Nations on global partnerships.

 

UN Trade Conference Ends With Pledge To Eliminate Poverty And Hunger 19

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ended its 11th session last week in São Paulo, Brazil, by adopting a declaration pledging to eradicate poverty and hunger while achieving fair and equitable multilateral trade negotiations.

Its plan of action, called the "São Paulo Consensus," said that despite the encouraging signs of growth in the South, the gap between developing and developed countries has continued to widen. It needed to focus on the plight of the least developed countries and using global trade to eradicate poverty.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero, making his last speech to the Conference before his retirement, said UNCTAD must be used to help integrate the world's poorest people into the global economy because it was one of the few forums where weak and strong nations could talk with one another straightforwardly about key human development concerns.

Looking at the innovations of the session, he said it was the first time that a UN general debate had been broadcast live on the Internet.

UNCTAD XI had addressed trade and poverty reduction, trade and gender and the role of creative industries _ music, film, publishing and software production _ in fostering development. In the creative industries, the poor had a great deal to contribute because of the richness of their cultures, Mr. Ricupero said.

UNCTAD was proud of being the voice of the least developed countries, he said.

 

New UNFPA Survey Shows Progress In Meeting Global Reproductive Health Goals 20

The world has moved closer to reaching key reproductive health targets _ including cutting rates of maternal mortality _ but financial resources for this effort still do not keep up with demands, according to a survey released on 21 June by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

More and more countries are committed to safe motherhood, family planning policies are well-established around the world and the use of modern contraceptives is on the rise, according to the Global Survey, which tracks progress since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994. It was compiled based on responses from 169 countries.

"The Global Survey shows that countries have taken full ownership of the ICPD programme and a significant amount of progress has been achieved during the past last decade," said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid. "The challenge during the next 10 years is to build on this progress and ensure that investments reach the poorest segments of the population, especially women and young people."

According to the survey, more than 90 per cent of countries have integrated family planning and safe motherhood into their primary health care systems. A similar percentage had taken measures to address adolescent reproductive health, including integrating reproductive health education into school curricula. Many of the survey respondents have also established national AIDS commissions and programmes to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

The lack of financial resources is cited as the greatest threat to progress, with more than 80 per cent of countries reporting that available resources did not meet needs. In addition, the survey shows that current financial commitments by donor countries to poorer States are inadequate to make the Cairo vision a reality.

 

UNEP Teams Up With Bayer AG To Help Young People 21

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 21 June announced a €1 million (euro) yearly partnership with German-based chemicals and healthcare company Bayer AG to support the agency's global strategy to involve young people in environmental issues.

The initiative is called "Tunza" _ a Kiswahili word meaning to treat with care or affection _ and aims to engage young people in UNEP's work, increasing their participation in sustainable development issues.

Set to unfold over a six-year period, activities and events will include the annual Tunza international conferences for children and youth as well as related publications.

UNEP and Bayer have worked together on projects in the Asia and Pacific region for nearly a decade, organizing competitions for World Environment Day and providing opportunities for young people to participate in environmental study tours and international learning forums, such as last year's Eco-Innovate 03, in Sydney, Australia, at the University of New South Wales.

 

International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking, 26 June 2004 22

"One of the most damaging misconceptions about drug use is that it is a permanent problem. The truth is that treatment for drug abuse can work, and can restore value and dignity to a person's life. The theme for this year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, "Drugs: Treatment Works", aims to correct this misconception, and convey the facts about drug abuse treatment, based on the latest and most reliable evidence and research.

Millions of people worldwide have been directly affected by drug problems _ those who are dependent, as well as their families. Their lives have been disrupted, their health undermined, their education interrupted, their jobs lost, their families broken. People with drug-related problems, and their families and friends, need to know that there is a way out, and that effective help is available in different forms, depending on the needs and situation of each individual.

Today we have a better understanding of the mechanism of dependence. We know that dependence is a chronic and, in many cases, relapsing disorder. We know that, like many other chronic disorders, there are effective interventions that can help those affected to adopt productive lifestyles, avoid and reduce physical and mental health problems, improve family relationships, regain and retain child custody, and find better housing and employment opportunities. We also know that drug abuse treatment helps communities, by reducing criminality and the risks of transmission of blood-borne infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, and by allowing them to benefit from the contributions of healthier, more productive and better integrated individuals and families.

Policy-makers need to bear in mind that treatment is a cost-effective way to tackle not only the health and social consequences of drug abuse, but also to reduce the associated costs of medical care, social welfare and criminal justice interventions. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a variety of tools available at www.unodc.org to help clarify the facts about drug abuse treatment.

On this International Day against Drug Abuse, I call on everyone to examine and take into account the strong evidence about drug abuse treatment and its effectiveness. When treatment works, it benefits us all."

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COOPERATIVES, 3 July 2004 23

"The theme of this year's International Day of Cooperatives — "Cooperatives for fair globalization: creating opportunities for all" — underscores the important role that cooperatives, together with other stakeholders, play in promoting globalization that benefits all the world's people, not just a privileged few. Striving for fair globalization means working for a process and outcomes that are fundamentally inclusive, sustainable and people-centred. Together with improved governance, fair globalization can thus promote and facilitate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Traditionally, cooperatives have focused on the local concerns of their members and communities. Today, they need to adapt to the new realities of the wider marketplace. Many are already doing so through product diversity, offering high quality goods and services at competitive prices, and making use of information technology. But more can be done. The development of international linkages among local cooperatives is important for sharing business and financial information, and to broaden marketing opportunities. Where meaningful, the mergers of cooperatives within sectors can help reduce costs, raise efficiencies and increase bargaining power. Newer forms of capitalization need to be explored as well.

Governments and international organizations should ensure that cooperatives and smaller business entities enjoy a level playing field in the economic and political environments. Policies and laws that are conducive and supportive to the growth and adaptation of cooperatives are therefore vital. For its part, the United Nations family continues to play an active role as a member in the work of the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives.

By promoting the growth and success of cooperatives world-wide, Governments, international organizations and the United Nations can help them play to the full their role in making fair globalization a reality. On this International Day of Cooperatives, let us join forces in that mission."

 

As Olympic Torch Passes Through UN, S-G Urges Observance Of Truce During Games 24

Accepting the Olympic torch in New York on 19 June as part of its relay around the world, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged all warring factions to lay down their arms during the upcoming Games in Athens.

According to ancient Greek tradition, countries observe an "Olympic Truce" while athletes are competing in the global competition. The UN General Assembly has revived this tradition by calling for an end to bloodshed now as well.

"The Truce should be understood as more than a symbol," Mr. Annan told those at the ceremony. "While limited in duration and scope, it can offer a point of consensus, a pause to open a dialogue, a chance to provide relief to a suffering population. In short, it can offer a window of hope."

He voiced hope that during the 2004 Olympics, the "serenity of the Olympic flame will silence the sound of warfare."

 

UN Public Service Day Honours Employees Of Member Governments 25

Calling on all countries to review the working conditions of their public service, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 23 June stressed that sound good public administration is vital to promoting democratic governance and to reaching global antipoverty goals.

In an address to mark UN Public Service Day 2004, delivered by Assistant Secretary-General Patrizio Civili, Mr. Annan said "weak governance, or corrupted public services…not only serve as an obstacle to development, but also squander precious resources and undermine the ethical fibre of society."

The best public servants give outstanding service to their public, sometimes under severe hardship and strain, and may "receive salaries that barely enable them to make ends meet," Mr. Annan said.

"I appeal to all countries to review the working conditions of their public service and put in place the compensation and incentives that will reward honest, hard-working, public servants and, most importantly, attract new talent for the future," he said.

The UN gave 10 public service awards to government agencies or departments from around the world. They were Austria, Australia, Brazil (two prizes), Cameroon, Canada, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines and South Africa.

 

WHO Issues Guidelines On Safety Of Alternative Medicines 26

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on 23 June announced the publication of guidelines aimed at helping countries and consumers navigate the largely unregulated world of alternative medicines.

Up to 80 per cent of all people in the developing world rely on traditional medicine for their primary health care, according to WHO. In wealthy countries, many people seek out various types of natural remedies on the assumption that natural means safe. But reports of adverse reactions to these treatments are on the rise.

"WHO supports traditional and alternative medicines when these have demonstrated benefits for the patient and minimal risks," WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-wook said. "But as more people use these medicines, governments should have the tools to ensure all stakeholders have the best information about their benefits and their risks."

The guidelines provide simple, easy to follow tips on issues to look out for and a brief checklist of basic questions which may be used to help facilitate proper use of traditional and alternative medicine.

Advice is provided to government authorities on preparing easy-to-access information and on working with the mass media to sensitize and educate the population. In addition, suggestions are given for several health system structures and processes needed to promote proper use of traditional and alternative medicines.