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Wipe Out Polio, Now — By Ban Ki-moon

15 May

Accra, May 15, 2012

Wild viruses and wildfires have two things in common. If neglected, they can spread out of control. If handled properly, they can be stamped out for good.

Today, the flame of polio is near extinction — but sparks in three countries threaten to ignite a global blaze. Now is the moment to act.

During the next two weeks, on two continents, two events offer the chance for a breakthrough. First, the leaders of the world’s largest economies — the G8 — congregate at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David in rural Maryland. A week later, the world’s ministers of health convene in Geneva.

Together, they can push to deliver on an epic promise: to liberate humankind from one of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases.

The world’s war on polio, declared nearly a quarter of a century ago, was as ambitious an undertaking as the successful campaign to eradicate another great public health menace, smallpox. Slowly but surely, over the years, we have advanced on that goal.

Polio today survives in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. That’s the good news. The bad: we are in danger of falling victim to our own success.

Here’s why: the world is now populated by a generation which has either never been exposed to polio or has been inadequately vaccinated. When the virus strikes under those conditions, the impact can be devastating.

We saw that in the Republic of the Congo in 2010 and elsewhere in Africa when an outbreak killed half of all who were infected.

A prompt emergency response by the international community halted that budding epidemic. But the incident gives an idea of the potential consequences of failing to eradicate polio while we have the chance.

This year fewer than one hundred people were left paralyzed by this easily preventable disease, almost all in the three countries I have mentioned. Left unchecked, however, UN epidemiologists warn that a renewed outbreak could cripple as many as one million people within the decade, many of them children — the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

This threat keeps me up at night because I know how easy it is to address. My wife and I have personally immunized toddlers in Asia and Africa, joining tens of millions of government workers, Rotarian’s, volunteers, political and religious leaders (not to mention parents) who have worked for decades to ensure that every child is protected.

Most recently, we visited India, which just two years ago was home to half of all the world’s children with polio. Now, thanks to a concerted drive, we were able to celebrate India’s first polio-free year in history.

Similar efforts are under way in the three remaining polio-endemic countries. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani of Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan each personally oversee their national response.

Nigeria has committed funds from its own treasury, and polio eradication in all three countries depends heavily on government resources.

But that in itself is not enough. With a determined push, the international community can wipe out polio once and for all. To do so, however, it must organize — and commit the required financial resources.

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES

15 May

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

15 May 2012

This year’s International Day of Families highlights the need for work-family balance. The aim is to help workers everywhere to provide for their families financially and emotionally, while also contributing to the socioeconomic development of their societies.

Current trends underscore the growing importance of work-family policies. These include greater participation by women in the labour market, and growing urbanization and mobility in search for jobs. As families become smaller and generations live apart, extended kin are less available to offer care, and employed parents face rising challenges.

Millions of people around the world lack decent working conditions and the social support to care for their families. Affordable quality childcare is rarely available in developing countries, where many parents are forced to leave their preschool children home alone. Many young children are also left in the care of older siblings who, in turn, are pulled from school.

A number of countries offer generous leave provisions for mothers and fathers. Many more, however, extend few comprehensive benefits in line with international standards. Paternity leave provisions are still rare in the majority of developing countries.

Flexible working arrangements, including staggered working hours, compressed work schedules or telecommuting, are becoming more widely available – but there is much room for improvement everywhere. I am committed to this in our own organization, where we are currently looking at our own arrangements, and seeing what we can do better.

We need to respond to the ever-changing complexities of work and family life. I welcome the establishment of family-friendly workplaces through parental leave provisions, flexible working arrangements and better childcare.

Such policies and programmes are critical to enhancing the work-family balance. These actions can also lead to better working conditions, greater employee health and productivity, and a more concerted focus on gender equality.

Work-family balance policies demonstrate both a government’s commitment to the well-being of families and the private sector’s commitment to social responsibility On this International Day of Families, let us renew our pledge to promote work-family balance for the benefit of families and society at large.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED AND MISSING STAFF MEMBERS 25 March 2012

27 Mar

Scores of United Nations staff and personnel were victims of detention, abduction, kidnapping, assault, harassment and even murder again over the past year.

Every attack on a UN staff member is a tragedy for the individuals involved, a serious crime that must be prosecuted, and an attempt to undermine our Organization’s global work for peace, human rights and development. We must respond with prevention, protection and justice.

The UN Department of Safety and Security has documented 189 cases where United Nations civilian personnel were detained or arrested by Member States in 2011. The problems continue this year. As of today, four staff are being held.

The UN Department of Safety and Security has further reported that 18 United Nations civilian personnel were abducted and held hostage by criminal elements and extremist groups in 2011. During the first two months of 2012, 10 United Nations personnel were abducted. All but one have been released.

I am closely following all staff security incidents. I will never forget the words of one peacekeeper I met after his release from months in captivity. He described how he had worried about his loved ones, coped with being in chains for hours on end, and struggled through days and nights of uncertainty and isolation. “It’s not so easy to stay alive – but it’s also not easy to die just like that,” he said.

This peacekeeper, like so many other staff, returned to work for the United Nations following his release. I am inspired by the dedication of our staff. I am outraged by attacks against them. And I am determined to protect every single person serving under the United Nations flag worldwide. I thank the Staff Union for keeping the spotlight on this problem and pledge to fully support their efforts.

True protection demands collective action. Yet only 90 Member States have ratified the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and only 27 have ratified the 2005 Optional Protocol which extends protection to UN personnel delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance.

On this International Day, I demand the immediate release of all detained staff members, and I call on all countries to join forces to protect the thousands of United Nations personnel who risk their safety to help suffering people in some of the most dangerous parts of our world.

Carter Center Statement on Mali March 23, 2012 CONTACT: Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124

24 Mar

The Carter Center strongly condemns the seizure of power in Mali by elements of the military.  The Carter Center calls for the immediate and peaceful return to constitutional order and the establishment of a short transition toward the scheduled elections.

“Mali is a shining example of a country struggling to put democratic principles into action,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “Control of the military should immediately return to the democratically elected civilian government so that the country can continue its path toward lasting peace, development, and democracy. The safety of President Touré and other state officials must be ensured.”

The rebellion in the North should not be allowed to destabilize the country further. The path forward remains a negotiated settlement, ceasefire, and the disarmament of rebels.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL — MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

24 Mar

21 March 2012

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an important opportunity to remember the pernicious impact of racism.

Racism undermines peace, security, justice and social progress. It is a violation of human rights that tears at individuals and rips apart the social fabric.

As we mark this International Day under the theme of “racism and conflict,” my thoughts are with the victims.

Racism and racial discrimination have been used as weapons to engender fear and hatred. In extreme cases, ruthless leaders instigate prejudice to incite genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are many valuable treaties and tools – as well as a comprehensive global framework – to prevent and eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Nevertheless, racism continues to cause suffering for millions of people around the world. It thrives on ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes.

The United Nations is responding by working to foster inclusion, dialogue and respect for human rights. Where societies have been shattered by conflict, the United Nations strives to promote peace processes and peacebuilding that foster inclusion, dialogue, reconciliation and human rights. Uprooting racism and prejudice is essential for many war-torn societies to heal.

At the same time, I look to all people to join the United Nations in our drive to eliminate racism. We must, individually and collectively, stamp out racism, stigma and prejudice.

This year, we are spreading the word through social media. Visit our new website, http://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism. Tweet your support with the hashtag #FightRacism. Share the text of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination with the link http://bit.ly/xGOrnX. Post to one of our Facebook pages in English, French or Spanish. Or create your own campaign.

UNIC New Delhi invites global participation in 24FPS International Animation Awards 2012

24 Mar

Theme:The Future We Want

Background:

In 2011, the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan,and its partner, the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC),India, successfully organized a global contest – the 24FPS International Awards 2011 – that saw young filmmakers create animation films on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

 

24FPS International Animation Awards 2012:

Based on the success of the 2011 initiative, we have now negotiated with MAAC to open the 24FPS 2012 contest to entries catalysed by UNICs around the world. Following DPI’s strategic communication advice, the theme for this year’s animation film festival and competition will be TheFuture We Want, reflecting the UN’s global initiative to capture people’s ideas, dreams and aspirations for a better tomorrow.

We invite UNICs to join us in this exciting project and publicize the contest in their respective countries. UNIC New Delhi would be happy to receive competition entries from other UNICs and forward them to the Awards jury.

For more information on categories and participation, please visit http://www.24fpsmaac.com/international-awards2011.html.

UN WOMEN ORGANISES MOUNT ABURI CLIMB TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

2 Mar

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women- UN Women, one priority area is to end gender-based violence and through the Ghana UNiTE Campaign initiative organized a walk to raise awareness on the need to end violence against women and girls. This was in preparation towards the Africa UNiTE Mount Kilimanjaro Climb, the regional component of the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Global UNiTE Campaign to end violence against women and girls.
The historic climb to the Aburi Mountain under the theme ‘Speak Up, Climb Up’ also coincided with the events to mark this year International Women’s Day in Ghana. About 500 women and men from various institutions in the country participated in the event.
The National Programme Coordinator for UN Women Ghana, Ms. Afua Ansre explained that the Africa UNiTE Campaign was launched in 2010, during the week of the Africa Union’s Heads of State Summit., and it is a United Nations Inter-agency initiative bringing together 11 UN organizations to undertake coordinated actions and activities to eliminate violence against women and girls. She noted that, Mount Kilimanjaro Climb has been planned from March 5 to 9 this year and would involve at least one participant from each of the 54 African countries, members of from civil societies and the media.
Ms. Ansre further stated that, every woman and girl should live in a home where she is free from the threat of violence and every girl should be able to attend school without the risk of abuse. This she believes, together, we can change deeply rooted attitudes and practices that discriminate against women and girls in Ghana.
Ms. Salamatu Musah, an athlete and Ghana’s Representative in the Mount Kilimanjaro Climb, espoused that sports can be a venue for the empowerment of women, and through the leadership of female athletes, we can draw attention to the plight of abused women and children in Ghana and on the African continent.