99 August September
Urges Security Council Reform
Speaking at a news conference during
the launch of his report Implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration
(A/58/323, see page 28) on 8 September, UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan called for expanding the membership of the Security Council
to make the 15-member body more democratic and more representative,
thus giving it greater legitimacy, especially in view of recent
divisions over Iraq.
The Secretary-General noted that
UN membership had almost quadrupled since the world body was founded
nearly 60 years ago and yet the structure of the Security Council
had not changed since its first day, with five permanent members
with the right of vetoChina, France, the Russian Federation,
the United Kingdom and the United Statesand ten members elected
for two-year terms from the various regions of the world.
Yes, it implies expansion of the membership of the Council
and allowing other regions and other groups to be represented on
the Council, he said on reforming UN institutions. We
started with 51 Member States and we are now 191 Member States.
Yes, we are an organization of sovereign States, but the structure
of the Council has not changed and I think it is about time that
we took the reform very seriously. It will entail expansion in membership,
Asked whether that would mean an increase in permanent membership,
he replied: It could be an increase in permanent membership
as well as in ordinary, elected membership. Mr. Annan declined
to go into specifics on who exactly the new members should be, who
should be permanent members with the right of veto, and who should
be elected for specific terms, and what regions should be represented.
Noting that discussion of Security Council reform had been going
on for more than a decade, Mr. Annan said: But I think that
in the current climate lots of leaders have been concerned about
the state of the international peace and security architecture and
would want to see something done about it. I think that the Iraqi
crisis brought this to the fore.
But in tackling it this time, I hope we will be much more
creative and much more daring, and look at the issue in a broader
context and really try to make progress. My sense in my contacts
with leaders around the world is that they seem determined to move
Debates UN Future
the annual UN General Assembly general debate on 23 September, Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said that recent events had called into question the shared
vision of global solidarity and collective security agreed to by 189
Head of State only three years ago at the Millennium Summit. With
the backdrop of the war in Iraq and the recent bombing of UN headquarters
in Baghdad, this years general debate was an opportunity to
consider the fundamental principle of multilateralism and the role
of the UN in upholding its application.
While some consider the threats of
terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as
the main challenges to world peace and security, Mr. Annan said,
others had to deal more immediately with the effects of small arms
employed in civil conflict, extreme poverty, the disparity of income
between and within societies, the spread of infectious diseases,
climate change and environmental degradation. It was the responsibility
of the Organization to deal with all of these threats and challenges
in a collective fashion, he said and to understand that they were
interlinked. Mr. Annan said, however, that some were challenging
the fundamental principle of collective security and the strategies
of containment and deterrence. The Organization had come to a fork
in the road he said and that it must decide whether it is
possible to continue on the basis agreed in 1945 at its founding
or whether radical changes are needed.
To that end, Mr. Annan said he was planning to establish a High-Level
Panel of eminent persons who could take a hard look at fundamental
policy issues and at the structural changes that may be needed in
order to strengthen them. The panel will be assigned four
tasks: to examine the current challenges to peace and security;
to consider the contribution which collective action can make in
addressing these challenges; to review the functioning of the major
organs of the United Nations and the relationship between them;
and to recommend ways of strengthening the UN, through reform of
its institutions and processes.
Resolution Protecting UN Workers
The United Nations Security Council on 26 August approved a resolution
protecting UN and other aid workers after reaching a compromise
on wording prompted by US objections. The final version of resolution
1502 condemns violence such as kidnapping, rape and murder against
UN and other humanitarian workers and demands that States prosecute
those crimes. It also classifies attacks on aid workers as war crimes
to be punished accordingly.
The original resolution, first proposed in April and then revived
after the 19 August attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad, included
a reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US, which
opposes the Court, objected to the reference in April and raised
its objections again after the resolution was re-tabled.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the resolution as an unambiguous
message to all those who mistakenly believe that, in todays
turbulent world, they can advance their cause by targeting the servants
of humanity. He urged countries that have seen attacks on
UN personnel to investigate and prosecute perpetrators. Impunity
for those who commit such unpardonable crimes cannot stand,
Mr. Annan said.
Mr. Annan also noted that he fully supports the International Criminal
Court and the fact that language regarding it was removed from the
resolution does not change the ICCs status. It is there,
it is established, they will continue to do their work, he
said. It was a compromise that was necessary to pass the resolution.
The Secretary-General also called on States that have not yet done
so to sign, ratify, and accede to the Convention for the Safety
of United Nations and Associated Personnel.
GA Devotes High-Level Plenary Session to HIV/AIDS
currently represents the international communitys greatest leadership
challenge, one that must be characterized by candid recognition of
the diseases impact on societies and the steps that must be
taken in response, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asserted
at a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 22 September.
Setting the tone for the debate,
Mr. Annan opened with a sobering observation: at the current rate
of progress, none of the agreed targets for AIDS would be achieved
by 2005. By 2005 we should have cut by a quarter the number
of young people infected with HIV in the worst-affected nations;
we should have halved the rate at which infants contract HIV; and
we should have comprehensive care programmes in place, he
said, recounting some of his progress reports (A/58/84) troubling
findings, chiefly that much more needs to be done to provide access
to prevention and care for women, and to care for the increasing
number of AIDS orphans. We are still only half way to the
US$10 billion a year that is needed by 2005.
Heads of State and Government, and ministers from more than 100
nations participated in the 14-hour discussion on HIV/AIDS that
took place at UN headquarters in New York. Their statements centered
on advances made in many countries, particularly in heavily affected
ones. Participants noted that the issue had now been accorded a
high priority on national agendas with few governments, if any,
underestimating the magnitude of the pandemic. Despite such gains,
however, attention was drawn to the fact that the number of people
with the infection was still growing, with some five million new
cases detected annually, while the gap between need and resources
Referring to the Bush administrations proposed US$15 billion
five-year emergency plan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell noted
that governments alone could not address the global crisis, and
stressed that the private sector must also be a part of the fight.
Samuel Insanally, the Foreign Minister of Guyana, noted that developing
countries were facing the additional challenge of daunting debt
burdens and debt-servicing obligations. He stressed that relief
processes must be accelerated and made less restrictive to allow
countries to build social service programmes to address the HIV/AIDS
situation. South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
said that awareness campaigns now reached most of the population
and signs of behavioural change were taking place. Among the challenges
she cited were the high cost of medical technologies and the continued
poaching of South Africas valuable health workers.
The President of the International Federation of the Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies, Juan Manual Suarez del Toro, expressed frustration,
suggesting that the moment for debate was long past. We know
what we need to do, and we know how to do it, he said, stressing
that the level of actions should be massively scaled up and that
the barriers of silence, stigma and discrimination must
Contact: Dominique de Santis, UNAIDS, 20 avenue Appia, CH-1211
Geneva 27, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/791 4509, e-mail <email@example.com>,
Council Separates Tribunals
On 4 September, the Security Council adopted resolution 1504 (2003)
to reaffirm Carla Del Ponte as Prosecutor of the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as resolution 1505 (2003)
to appoint Hassan Bubacar Jallow as Prosecutor of the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Both will serve four-year terms beginning
on 15 September, following a decision in late August to separate
the prosecutorial duties for the two Tribunals, which to date had
been the responsibility of Ms. Del Ponte.
The Council had taken the decision to separate the duties in response
to a 28 July letter (S/2003/766) from the Secretary-General in which
he indicated that, as the two Tribunals moved towards implementing
their respective completion strategies, it was essential, in the
interests of efficiency and effectiveness, that each have its own
Prosecutor, able to devote his or her entire attention to the conduct
of the outstanding investigations and prosecutions. The Secretary-General
also informed the Council of his intention to maintain Ms. Del Ponte
as Prosecutor of the Yugoslavia Tribunal.
UN Launches Commission
on the Private Sector
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the formation of a high-level
Commission on the Private Sector and Development on 25 July 2003.
The initiative is hosted by the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) and co-chaired by Paul Martin, former Canadian Finance Minister
and Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico.
We cannot reach the Millennium Development Goals without support
from the private sector, Mr. Annan said. Most of all,
we cannot reach them without a strong private sector in the developing
countries themselves, to create jobs and build prosperity.
The Commission will evaluate requirements for an enabling
regulatory environment that could spur business growth. Even
when budget deficits and inflation are controlled, private investment
is often inhibited by national and local bureaucratic impediments.
According to Mr. Martin, the aim of the Commission is to place the
ambitions of local businesses at the heart of development strategy.
To that end, Commissioners plan to study examples of companies in
the developing world that are both highly profitable and clearly
beneficial to their nations overall development needs. In
many of these cases, policymakers have eliminated key legal obstacles
and bottlenecks or created new institutional mechanisms to facilitate
the investment that allowed enterprises to flourish.
However, too often the community of small businesses in developing
countries is not part of the global development debate, in contrast
to civil society organizations and governments, noted Mark Malloch
Brown, UNDP Administrator. The lost voice in the development
debate is the voice of the local businessman, he said.
The Commission will report back to the Secretary-General before
the end of 2003 with concrete policy recommendations for developing
and developed countries and multilateral development agencies. It
will also seek to highlight successful initiatives already underway
in the field of private sector development.
Within the Commission on Private Sector and Development our
focus is on a very uncommission-like second phase where we will
be trying out some of the ideas in the field to make these new approaches
succeed, said Mr. Malloch Brown.
The other 14 Commission members are: Eduardo Aninat, former Deputy
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; Jorge Castañeda,
former Foreign Secretary of Mexico; Hernando De Soto, President,
Peru Institute for Liberty and Democracy; Luisa Diogo, Minister
of Planning and Finance, Mozambique; Carleton Fiorina, President
and CEO, Hewlett Packard; Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner Worldwide,
McKinsey & Co.; Anne Lauvergeon, President and CEO, COGEMA;
Jannik Lindbaek, Chairman of the Board, Norwegian Investment Bank;
Peter McPherson, President of Michigan State University; Noureddine
Mejdoub, Ambassador of Tunisia to the United States; Alan Patricof,
Vice-Chairman and Founder, Apax Partners; Kwame Pianim, CEO, New
World Investments; C.K. Prahalad, Professor of Business Administration,
University of Michigan; Robert Rubin, Chairman of the Executive
Committee of Citigroup and former United States Treasury Secretary;
and Miko Rwayitare, President and Executive Chairman, Telcel International.
Contact: Yann Risz, Commission Director, One United Nations Plaza,
DC1-21, New York NY 10017, USA, telephone +1-212/906 6331, fax +1-212/906
5778, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
World Investment Report 2003
In an effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), countries
are increasingly improving their investment climates, according
to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD),
who has published the World Investment Report 2003 (WIR03). This
years edition focuses on the FDI downturnalready down
by over 40% in 2001, and which fell another 21% in 2002which
has led to considerable concerns as to whether or not
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be met, according to
Speaking during the launch of the report in Geneva, UNCTAD Secretary-General
Rubens Ricupero said global FDI flows this year are set to stabilize
at around the depressed level seen in 2002, but a rebound
is likely in 2004. Last years total US$651 billion was
just half the record volume of 2000, US$1.4 trillion. The decline
was broad-based: 108 of 195 economies saw lower inflows in 2002
than in 2001.
Part Two of the report seeks to advance the understanding of host
country policies and measures that are particularly important for
attracting FDI and benefiting from it. It also focuses on key issues
that straddle national FDI policies and international investment
WIR03 also suggests that future agreements, at whatever level, should
pay more attention to the role of home countries. Developing countries
would benefit if home country measuresaimed at promoting more
and better FDI to developing countrieswere made more transparent,
stable and predictable. It also argues that transnational corporations
themselves should be encouraged to increase the development impact
of their investment in developing countries, as part of good corporate
citizenship. This could be done through voluntary action or more
legally based processes.
The report finds that the worlds FDI stock stood at US$7.1
trillion in 2002, up more than tenfold since 1980. More specifically:
The developed world hosted two-thirds of world inward FDI
stock in 2002 (US$4.6 trillion), mainly distributed in the United
States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The inward FDI stock of developing countries (US$2.3 trillion)
totals about a third of their gross domestic product (GDP), almost
twice the 19% for developed countries. Back in 1980, the respective
ratios were 13% and 5%.
Central and Eastern European countries increased their inward
FDI stock substantially, from US$3 billion in 1990 to US$188 billion
The 49 least developed countriesthe poorest developing
countriesaccounted for 2% of the total inward FDI stock of
developing countries in 2002. The largest host least developed country
was Angola, registering FDI stock on a level comparable to that
of the Philippines.
On the outward side, developed countries are the dominant suppliers
of FDI, accounting for almost nine-tenths of the worlds outward
stock in 2002. The report finds that the most striking change in
the past 20 years is that the EU has become by far the largest source.
In 1980, the outward stocks of the EU and the US were almost equal,
at around US$215 billion. But by 2002, the EUs stock (including
intra-European Union stock) had reached US$3.4 trillion, more than
twice that of the US (US$1.5 trillion). The gap opened in the 1980s
and widened in the late 1990s.
Contact: Karl Sauvant, Director, Division on Investment, Technology
and Enterprise Development, UNCTAD, Palais des Nations, CH-1211
Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/907 5707, e-mail <email@example.com>,
HR Sub-Commission: Corporate
During its 55th session, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights presented its Draft Norms on the
Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business
Enterprises, which calls for transnational corporations (TNCs) and
other businesses that violate international human rights laws to
be subject to investigation and censure by the United Nations.
Passed on August 13, resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/ 2003/12/Rev.2 calls
for the UN to monitor business compliance with international treaties
governing human rights, labour, environment, consumer protection
and anti-corruption laws. The Norms state: TNCs and other
business enterprises shall be subject to periodic monitoring and
verification by the UN, other international and national mechanisms.
The resolution will go to the 53-nation Human Rights Commission
for consideration at its 60th session in March/April 2004.
The Norms are also accompanied by a Commentary (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/38),
which says that action should be taken when TNCs do not conform:
the UN commission on human rights should consider establishing
a group of experts, special rapporteur or working group of the commission
to receive information and take effective action when businesses
fail to comply.
Though the Norms are an authoritative interpretation of the responsibilities
of corporations under international human rights laws and best practices,
they are not binding in themselves. They can be adopted by companies
or governments. Under the section on general obligations, the text
reads: Within their respective spheres of activity and influence,
transnational corporations and other business enterprises have the
obligation to promote, secure the fulfilment of, respect, ensure
respect of and protect human rights recognized in international
as well as national law, including the rights and interests of indigenous
peoples and other vulnerable groups. The Norms also call for
the right to equal opportunity and non-discriminatory treatment;
the right to the security of persons; the right of workers; and
respect for national sovereignty and human rights. They outline
obligations with regard to consumer protection and in regard to
environmental protection. A section on general provisions of implementation
is also provided.
The Norms define a TNC as an economic entity operating in
more than one country or a cluster of economic entities operating
in two or more countrieswhatever their legal form, whether
in their home country or country of activity, and whether taken
individually or collectively.
Amnesty International, which participated in the process of elaborating
the Draft Norms, said the resulting text was comprehensive,
authoritative and offering a much-needed and practical foundation
for ensuring that private companies respect human rights.
Amnesty International also encouraged the Sub-Commission to begin
the process of developing mechanisms for implementing the Norms
The 55th Session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection
of Human Rights was held in Geneva from 28 July-15 August 2003.
It adopted 43 resolutions and decisions on the promotion and protection
of human rights, ranging from anti-terrorism measures and international
human rights standards to the International Criminal Court and the
increasing pressure that was exerted, both at the multilateral and
bilateral levels, to its operations. The problems of globalization;
the right to development; the right to drinking water; corruption;
and extreme poverty were also addressed.
More information on the 55th Session can be found online (www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/
Contact: Secretariat of the Sub-Commission, Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Room PW 1-036, Palais des Nations,
8-14 avenue de la Paix, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone
+41-22/917 9256, fax +41-22/917 9011, website (www.unhchr .ch).
Parties to the ICC Meet
The Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court
(ICC) met at UN headquarters in New York from 8-12 September 2003,
electing a deputy prosecutor, considering the establishment of an
international criminal bar, recognizing the coordinating role of
the NGO Coalition for the ICC, and approving the Courts 2004
programme budget. Discussions also continued in a separate Special
Working Group on the Crime of Aggression.
Deciding upon a six-year term for the Office of Prosecutor, the
Assembly elected Serge Brammertz (Belgium) as Deputy Prosecutor
to the ICC. Prior to his election, Mr. Brammertz served as a Federal
Prosecutor of Belgium and Deputy to the Prosecutor-General at the
Liège Court of Appeal.
African delegates expressed support for Mr. Brammertz, but cited
disappointment over the withdrawal of the candidate from Gambia,
Hassan B. Jallow, just prior to the vote, which they said had given
the African delegation and other States Parties little time to proceed
with the election. Sibu Maqungo (South Africa) requested that more
time be given to submit nominees in the future. Proper representation
must be ensured in the Office of the Prosecutor, he said.
Court Registrar Bruno Cathala announced that a final draft of the
Code of Conduct, criteria and procedures for legal assistance and
Court assignments, which is being drawn up in consultation with
experts and international organizations and bar associations, is
to be submitted to the Courts Judges and to the next Assembly.
An advisory body is being created to assist in the creation of a
roster of lawyers that will reflect geographical representation
and different areas of expertise.
Delegates stressed that, both in the Courts list of lawyers
and in the advisory body envisaged by the Registrar, all legal systems
and cultures of the different continents should be represented.
Not only the accused have the right to legal representation, delegates
emphasized, but also victims or others who might appear before the
The Assembly officially recognized the coordinating role that the
NGO Coalition for the ICC has played between civil society and the
Court in a consensus resolution (ICC-ASP/2/L.2). Introducing the
text, Joe Robert Pemagbi (Sierra Leone) said that since the beginning
of efforts to establish the Court, NGOs had been supporting the
work of governments and the UN in an extremely constructive
and coordinated manner. The resolution reconfirms a long-term
basis for that continued role.
In related actions, the Assembly approved a resolution (ICC-ASP/2/L.6)
requesting the Registrar to establish a trust fund for the participation
of the least developed countries in the work of the Assembly and
its subsidiary bodies. It also elected a Board of Directors for
the Trust Fund for the benefit of victims of crimes within the Courts
jurisdiction and their families. Lastly, the Assembly established
its secretariat and set the dates 6-10 September 2004 for its next
session, to be held in The Hague (Netherlands).
Contact: UN Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations, New York
NY 10017, USA, telephone +1-212/963 5360, website (www.un.org/law/icc)
Treaty Ratification Urged
The 2003 Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), held in Vienna from
3-5 September to examine ways to accelerate the treatys entry
into force, concluded with the adoption of a final declaration that
stresses the importance of a universal and effectively verifiable
comprehensive treaty as a major instrument in all aspects of nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation.
Drafted at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and opened for
signature in September 1996, the CTBT bans all nuclear-test explosions
in any environment and establishes an International Monitoring System.
So far, 168 States have signed the CTBT and 104 have ratified it.
For almost seven years, the Preparatory Commission has been working
on ensuring that the verification system is credible, functional
and cost-effective. More than half of the 321 designated monitoring
stations have been installed and meet the Commissions specifications,
with data from the established stations flowing via the Global Communications
Infrastructure to the International Data Centre in Vienna.
Calling upon all States that had yet to sign or ratify the CTBT
to do so without delay, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan directed
that call particularly to the Democratic Peoples Republic
of Korea, as well as the other 11 States whose ratification was
needed for the treaty to enter into force. He also noted that its
entry into force would be a victory for the cause of peace that
could not come too soon. Mr. Annan had called on countries
to send high-level officials to the meeting, but the US, which has
so far refused to ratify the CTBT, did not attend.
Addressing the Conference, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austrias
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the issue of weapons
of mass destruction had dominated the international agenda and was
a major ingredient of some of the most dangerous crises the world
was facing today. We must continue to work hard on those countries
which still harbour doubts about the treatys verification
capabilities and usefulness in the new international security environment
or which link the ratification of the CTBT with the resolution of
the Middle East conflict, she said.
Key issues dominating the discussions included fears raised by most
participants that further delay in the CTBTs entry into force
could lead to a resumption of nuclear testing, resulting in the
acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists. Delegates also emphasized
the need for the universal and complementary application of all
instruments dealing with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The Conferences final declaration contains 12 measures to
promote the CTBTs entry into force, including the organization
of regional seminars to raise awareness; calls for the CTBTOs
Provisional Technical Secretariat to continue to provide States
with legal assistance with respect to the ratification process and
implementation measures; and to establish a contact point for better
exchange and dissemination of relevant information. The Conference
also encouraged cooperation with NGOs and civil society to raise
awareness of and support for the CTBT and its objectives.
A number of representatives spoke during the Conference. Moroccos
representative said the justification by some States of the need
to combat terrorism could not be used as an excuse to weaken the
results of disarmament efforts. On the contrary, disarmament was
one of the most effective ways to fight terrorism, he noted. The
Belgian representative said that the entry into force of the CTBT
would help to create an international climate of trust based on
transparency, and that the CTBT was a practical step towards the
implementation of article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The representative for Egypt said that some nuclear-weapon States
were failing to shoulder their responsibilities and stressed the
need for States to deal collectively rather than selectively with
all nuclear non-proliferation agreements, including the NPT. There
must be a comprehensive framework for dealing with nuclear non-proliferation
and disarmament, he added. The representative from Afghanistan expressed
his concerns about the eventual transfer of nuclear and other weapons
of mass destruction to such groups as Al Qaida and the remnants
of the Taliban. For that reason, Afghanistan encouraged the establishment
of nuclear-free zones to eliminate potential nuclear danger in the
world, he said. He also noted that Afghanistan had approved the
CTBT on 18 August.
Speaking on behalf of 97 NGOs, the representative of International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War said more than 2,000
nuclear tests had been conducted throughout the world, with direct,
serious and long-term adverse health and environmental effects.
He noted that by the year 2000, atmospheric testing had directly
produced an estimated 430,000 fatal human cancers. He said that
NGOs were alarmed by proposals of the present US administration
for the research and development of new types of nuclear weapons,
as well as proposals to reduce the time necessary to resume underground
nuclear testing. NGOs also encouraged the US and the Russian Federation,
as well as India, Pakistan and China, to increase transparency at
their test sites.
In closing remarks, the President of the Conference, Tom Grönberg
(Finland) said before the CTBT would enter into force, much remained
to be done, and he counted on the participants cooperation
during the months and years to come.
The following 12 States whose ratification is required for entry
into force, but who have not yet ratified, are: China, Colombia,
the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, the
United States and Viet Nam.
Contact: Daniela Rozgonova, Chief, Public Information, CBTBO,
Vienna International Centre, A-1400 Vienna, Austria, telephone +43-1/26030
6200, fax +43-1/26030 5823, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, website
Conference on Disarmament Stalemate in 2003
Conference on Disarmament concluded its 2003 session on 9 September
after adopting its annual report (CD/WP.531), to be presented to the
58th session of the General Assembly, which noted that the Conference
was not able to agree on a programme of work during its 2003 session
and requested that consultations continue among Member States before
the 2004 session begins.
At the opening of the session, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in
his message noted that the protracted lack of agreement on a programme
of work had blocked the substantive work of the Conference on all
issues on its agenda, and said It might be argued that the standstill
was a reflection of broader problems in multilateral diplomacy.
The 2003 session marked the almost seventh consecutive year during
which it has been unable to reach agreement and start work on substantive
issues. The Conference, the only multilateral forum for disarmament
negotiations, works by consensus and cannot undertake new work without
the agreement of all Member States.
During its 2003 session, the Conference examined the following issues:
cession of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention
of nuclear war, including all related matters; prevention of an arms
race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure
non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear
weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems
of such weapons (radiological weapons); a comprehensive programme
of disarmament; and transparency in armaments.
In January 2003, a group of five Ambassadors to the Conference (Algeria,
Belgium, Chile, Sweden and Colombia, see Go Between 93) presented
a cross-group initiative to end the stalemate on the work programme
by addressing four issues on parallel tracks. Based on the proposal
by Ambassador Amorim (Brazil) in August 2000 (CD/1624), the Five
Ambassadors proposal seeks to bridge the gaps between Member
States on the main stumbling blocksprevention of an arms race
in outer space and nuclear disarmament. The proposal calls for the
establishment of four Ad Hoc Committees on the topics of negative
security assurances; nuclear disarmament; a treaty banning the production
of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive
devices; and prevention of an arms race in outer space.
The majority of delegates supported the Five Ambassadors proposal,
with Biodun Owoseni (Nigeria) urging the few countries that had not
endorsed it to do so in order to secure the necessary consensus to
start meaningful work. Mr. Owoseni said that while the global security
environment remained volatile, with new threats and unresolved challenges,
the continued paralysis of the Conference could only be a disservice
to the international community. China and the Russian Federation also
voiced their support for the proposal.
In their statements, representatives from France, Belarus, Belgium,
Algeria and Iran expressed their regret that the Conference was once
again unable to agree upon a programme of work and to start its substantive
In her concluding statement, the President of the Conference, Ambassador
Kuniko Inoguchi (Japan), said that many events taking place in todays
world had taken the Conference backwards, away from its aim. The current
dynamics of the world were not necessarily favourable to global peace.
Ms. Inoguchi pointed out that the problem facing the Conference remained
the same as one year agohow to find a balance between different
priorities in its programme of work. With the support of a wide range
of delegations, the Five Ambassadors proposal was a realistic option
to strike such a delicate balance, she said.
Dates for the 2004 session include: 19 January-26 March; 10 May-25
June; and 26 July-10 September. The next plenary of the Conference
will be held on 20 January 2004.
Contact: Conference on Disarmament, Palais des Nations, CH-1211
Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/917 3440, fax +41-22/917
0034, website (www.unog.ch/disarm/dconf.htm).
Landmine Convention Holds 5th Meeting
Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling,
Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
(also known as the Ottawa Landmine Convention) held their 5th annual
meeting in Bangkok (Thailand) from 15-19 September, bringing together
more than 600 representatives from governments, international organizations,
UN agencies and NGOs to assess progress and report on plans for the
implementation of the treaty.
In his message to the meeting, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan commended
the combined efforts of many actorsincluding governments, the
UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and civil society as a wholein
the campaign against indiscriminate weapons, noting that the partnership
has achieved a great deal in a short time, and contributed to the
rapid emergence of an international norm banning anti-personnel mines.
The meetingheld in a mine-affected country and in a region where
almost 20 countries have not yet banned the weaponstressed the
importance of funding for demining and victims assistance. Participants
also urged nations such as China, Russia and the US to sign the mine
ban treaty, which has already been accepted by 136 countries. Forty-seven
countries that have not signed have a combined stockpile of 200 million
Statements were heard from States Parties on their continued commitment
to implement and promote the treaty. Participants also stressed the
importance of the First Review Conference, to be held in Nairobi from
29 November-3 December 2004, and the forum it would provide for mine-affected
States to present their plans on mine action and victim assistance.
A number of concerns were expressed, including the lack of financial
re-commitment as there were no announcements on funding or grants
proposed. The meetings final declaration, the Bangkok Declaration,
called upon all governments and people to meet the enormous
challenges of mine action, including victim assistance, and to provide
the technical and financial assistance required.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) launched its report
on 9 September, just prior to the meeting. Landmine Monitor Report
2003: Towards a Mine-Free World reports that more than 52 million
stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed by 69 countries,
including four million in the past year, the number of countries producing
the weapon has decreased from more than 50 to 15, and there have been
no significant exports of anti-personnel mines since the mid-1990s.
The number of governments and rebel groups using anti-personnel
mines has continued to decrease, said Mary Wareham of Human
Rights Watch, the Global Coordinator for the Landmine Monitor initiative.
There are currently only two governmentsMyanmar and Russiaplanting
anti-personnel mines on a regular basis. The report notes that
since May 2002, at least six governments used anti-personnel mines,
all non-signatories to the ban treaty: India, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma),
Nepal, Pakistan, and Russia. Although Saddam Husseins forces
laid mines in many locations before and during the conflict, United
States and coalition forces apparently did not use anti-personnel
mines in Iraq, the report says.
In 2002 and through June 2003, new
landmine casualties were reported in 65 countries; the majority
(41) of these countries were at peace, not war. Only 15% of reported
casualties in 2002 were identified as military personnel.
Contact: Conventional Arms Branch, Department for Disarmament
Affairs, United Nations, New York NY 10017, USA, fax +1-212/963
1121, website (www.un.org/Depts/dda).
ICBL, care of Human Rights Watch, 1630 Connecticut Ave, Suite 500,
Washington DC 20009, USA, telephone +1-202/612 4351, fax +1-202/612
4333, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.icbl.org/lm/2002/).
Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport
International Ministerial Conference on Transit Transport Cooperation
was held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) from 28-29 August 2003, focusing on
assisting landlocked developing countries to more effectively participate
in the international trading system. The conference was preceded by
a 2nd and final Preparatory Committee, held from 25-27 August, also
Thirty landlocked developing countries, 33 transit access developing
countries, nine donor countries, seven additional developing countries
and 20 international agencies and financial institutions participated
in the discussions. At its conclusion, the Ministerial Conference
adopted the Almaty Programme of Action and a Ministerial Declaration.
The worlds 30 landlocked developing countries currently expend
an average of 15% of export earnings on transport services alonefor
some African landlocked nations, as much as 50%. In comparison, other
developing countries expend an average of 7% on transport services,
and the developed countries between 3-4%. Nine of the 12 lowest-ranking
countries on the United Nations Human Development Index are landlocked,
and economists estimate that landlocked status costs these countries
about 0.7% of their rate of economic growth each year due to heightened
costs and prolonged duration of time affecting both exports and imports.
The Programme of Actionthe first global action plan negotiated
at the ministerial level that provides a framework for cooperation
between the landlocked and the transit access developing countriescovers
policy improvements, especially as they relate to cutting costs and
travel days in sending exports from landlocked countries to seaports
via their transit access neighbours; improved rail, road, air and
pipeline infrastructure; international trade measures; technical and
financial international assistance; and monitoring and follow-up on
agreements. The Programme reinforces the right of all countries to
enjoy secure access to the sea and establishes a set of policy guidelines
for reducing red tape for landlocked country exports, while also respecting
the prerogatives of the access nations.
Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative
for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries
and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), served as Secretary-General
for the Ministerial Conference. The Almaty Programme of Action takes
note of the request of the landlocked developing countries for special
access for their products in world markets, Mr. Chowdhury said.
Establishment of this principle is one of the primary benefits
that the Programme will provide for these nations.
The action plan also refers to the need for special attention to the
accession of these countries to membership in the WTO. More than one-third
of the worlds 30 landlocked developing countries are not yet
members of the WTO.
Mr. Chowdhurys office will oversee follow-up of the Almaty agreement,
not only in donor, transit access and landlocked countries but also
within the United Nations system and among other international agencies,
Mr. Chowdhury said. The Almaty agreement will next be reviewed at
an upcoming meeting of ministers of the landlocked countries, in New
York in October 2003.
Contact: Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, OHRLLS, Room UH-900, New York
NY 10017, USA, telephone +1-212/963 7778, fax +1-917/367 3415, e-mail
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/imc/default.htm).
Adhoc Advisory Group on Burundi
22 August, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) established the
composition of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Burundi, which was created
in July 2003 to help the country through its transition from conflict
to peace and aid its economic and social reconstruction. The Advisory
Group will consist of the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Belgium,
Burundi, Ethiopia, France, Japan and South Africa, with the representative
of South Africa acting as its Chairperson. The Permanent Representatives
of Guatemala and Angola in their capacity as President of the ECOSOC,
and as Chairperson of the Security Councils Ad Hoc Working Group
on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, respectively, will
Last year the Council indicated it would consider setting up such
an advisory group at the request of any African country emerging from
conflict (E/2002/1). The original proposal for the mechanism emerged
from discussion in the General Assembly on the causes of conflict
in Africa, and the idea was put forth in a report to the Council by
the Secretary-General. The first such Group was created in October
2002 for Guinea-Bissau.
The Group will examine the humanitarian and economic needs of Burundi
and by mid-January 2004, the Group will prepare recommendations for
a long-term programme of support for the country on the basis of Burundis
development priorities. Such a programme will integrate relief, rehabilitation,
reconstruction and development into a comprehensive approach to peace
and stability. It will also provide advice on how to ensure that the
assistance of the international community is adequate, coherent, well-coordinated
and Global Fund Sign MOU
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) on 4 August that outlines their respective strengths and roles
in reducing the impact of AIDS, TB and malaria on communities in developing
countries. The MoU recognizes the Global Fund as a critical financing
mechanism to scale-up national programmes and UNAIDS as a key source
of strategic analysis, policy advice and technical expertise to help
countries access and use the resources of the Global Fund.
For the first time in the short history of the AIDS epidemicand
decisively in the case of malaria and TBwe have the potential
to reverse these epidemics through increased political and financial
commitments, said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. The
Global Fund is an indispensable resource in seizing this historic
opportunity and accelerating the response to these three diseases.
The UN system stands committed to making the Global Fund a success.
Fighting these diseases is a job for all of us, said Richard
Feachem, Executive Director of the Global Fund. The finance
of the Global Fund must be complemented by technical support to countries,
so that both public and private recipients can maximize their efforts
to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. The world depends on the in-country
assistance provided by UNAIDS as well as its tireless role in global
advocacy and coordination, he observed.
Over a period of 18 months and through two rounds of grants, the Global
Fund has committed US$1.5 billion to over 150 programmes in 92 countries.
Through 2004, US$2.6 billion has been pledged to the Fund, with an
additional US$2.1 billion pledged for 2005-2008. New contributions
of US$3 billion are required before the end of 2004 in order to fund
the next three rounds of grant approvals.
According to UNAIDS and World Health Organization (WHO) estimates,
over US$10.5 billion a year will be needed in 2005 for AIDS prevention,
treatment, care and support programmes in low- and middle-income countries.
About US$4.7 billion will be spent this year to fight the epidemic
in developing countries, leaving a funding shortfall of close to US$6
Contact: Frances McCaul, UNAIDS, 20 avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva
27, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/791 4662, e-mail <email@example.com>,
Robert Bourgoing, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, 53, Avenue
Louis-Casaï, 1216 Geneva-Cointrin, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/791
1714, fax +41-22/791 1701, e-mail <robert. bourgoing@the globalfund.org>,
website (www.globalfundatm.org/ index.html).
Bank Reports on AIDS and Africa
causes more long-term damage to national economies than previously
thought, according to a recent report by the World Bank, which says
countries such as South Africa face a progressive economic collapse
within several generations. In the early phases of the epidemic, economic
damage may appear to be slight. But as the transmission of capacities
and potential from one generation to the next is progressively weakened
and the failure to accumulate human capital becomes more pronounced,
the economy will begin to slow down, with the growing threat of collapse.
According to The Long-run Economic Costs of AIDS: Theory and an Application
to South Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic destroys economies by killing
off skilled and able workers, wrecking mechanisms that create human
capital, like stable homes, and undermining education prospects. The
World Banks says most studies of the macro-economic costs of AIDS,
as measured by reduced gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates,
do not pay enough attention to the way in which human knowledge and
potential are created and can be lost, one of the key channels influencing
long-term growth. In Africa, for example, where the epidemic has hit
the hardest to date, existing estimates range between a modest decline
of 0.3-1.5% in GDP growth annually. The report, however, argues that
the costs are likely to be much higher.
Previous estimates overlooked the impact of HIV/AIDS on children
if one or both parents die, how they can suddenly become orphans,
how they become vulnerable to dropping out of school and how, in this
way, the disease weakens the ability of todays generation to
pass on its skills and knowledge to the next, says Shanta Devarajan,
of the World Banks Human Development Programme and co-author
of the report.
The Bank says this raises important social and fiscal implications
for economic policy. The first is the threat of worsening inequality.
If the children left orphaned are not given the care and education
enjoyed by those whose parents remain uninfected, there will be increasing
inequality among the next generation of adults and the families they
form. Social customs of adoption and fostering, however well established,
may not be able to cope with the scale of the problem generated by
a sharp increase in adult mortality, thereby shifting the burden onto
the government. The government itself, however, is likely to experience
increasing fiscal problems and so be unable to fully finance this
By killing mainly young adults, AIDS seriously weakens a countrys
tax base, and reduces its ability to finance public expenditures,
including those aimed at accumulating human capital, such as education
and health services not related to AIDS. The damaging impact of HIV/AIDS
on economic growth over the longer run is intensified, and, as a result,
national finances will come under increasing pressure. Slower economic
growth means slower growth of the tax base, at the same time as governments
face growing demands to treat the sick and care for orphans.
While there is much economic analysis that shows how costly
it is to provide prevention, care and treatment to the millions that
are infected and affected, there are far fewer studies that show how
costly it is not to act, says Debrework Zewdie, Director of
the World Banks Global HIV/AIDS Programme. This new study
will help fill this gap, and its approach should persuade governments
of the need to draw up a plan of action and act on it.
Contact: Phil Hay, Media Relations Officer, External Relations
Department, World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433, USA,
telephone +1-202/473 1796, fax +1-202/522 2632, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Reports on African Economic Growth
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has released its annual report,
entitled Economic Report on Africa: Accelerating the Pace of Development
(ERA 2003), which examines how Africa can achieve the growth rates
necessary to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for improving
the welfare of millions of people worldwide. Using an expanded policy
stance index, the report ranks African countries based on the performance
of macro-economic, poverty reduction, and institution-building policies.
Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, and Tunisia rank highest
on the list of economic performance, while the Republic of Congo is
at the bottom followed by Zimbabwe, Chad, Guinea and Nigeria. The
report finds that the top performers have lower foreign debt, lower
budget deficits, and lower interest rates. Market liberalization is
more advanced in these countries, with few policy reversals; legal
systems are more effective; infrastructure is of higher and more reliable
quality and access is better; and pro-poor policies are more effective.
The bottom five fare poorly on all these indicators.
The report reveals that Africas real gross domestic product
(GDP) growth rate fell to 3.2% in 2002 from 4.3% in 2001, implying
that only five of Africas 53 countries achieved the 7% growth
rate required to meet the MDGs, 43 registered positive but below 7%
growth rates, and five registered negative growth rates.
Mauritius, Rwanda, Ghana, Gabon, Egypt, Mozambique and Uganda were
subjected to indepth study, and the findings show that African governments
are faced with four key challenges in accelerating the pace of development:
escaping poverty, achieving fiscal sustainability to exit aid dependence,
energizing African bureaucracies, and moving towards mutual accountability
According to the report, the outlook for Africa in 2003, with growth
expected to rebound to 4.2%, is mixed and will be influenced
by the strength of the recovery in global economic activity, developments
in commodity markets, progress in reducing regional insecurity, adoption
of sound macro-economic policies and the principles of good governance,
as well as the ability and willingness of African leaders to intensify
economic and social reforms.
Other areas on which the report focuses include foreign direct investment
(FDI), which it says continues to be hampered by weak governance,
poor infrastructure, weak institutions, and conflicts in many countries.
It also highlights the roles played by official development aid (ODA)
and trade. The failure of the Doha Development Round of multilateral
trade negotiations to provide immediate duty-free and quota-free market
access to the poorest countries hampers Africas exports. The
report suggests that the US decision to introduce a six-year US$51.7
billion farm bill boosting crop and dairy subsidies will reduce agricultural
prices, making it difficult for small African countries to compete.
Contact: Benedicte Walter, UN Economic Commission for Africa, PO
Box 3001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, telephone +251-1/44 3228, fax +251-1/51
2233, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.uneca.org/era2003).
Report Predicts MDGs: Won't Be Met
to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
(ECLAC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Brazils
Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), just seven of the
18 countries in Latin America could reach the Millennium Development
Goal (MDG) of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. The MDGs were
agreed to by 189 Heads of State or Government during the United Nations
Millennium Assembly in 2000.
The report, Meeting the Millennium Poverty Reduction Targets in Latin
America and the Caribbean, has concluded that Chile, Colombia, Honduras,
Panama, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay (and Argentina, if it werent
for the recent crisis) may achieve this goal, but only if economic
growth and reductions of inequalities continue at the same pace as
The findings appear to indicate that even very small reductions in
inequality can have very large positive impacts in terms of poverty
reduction. For most of the countries that were considered, a one-
or two-point reduction in the Gini coefficientwhich measures
income concentration among individuals or households within an economywould
achieve the same reduction in the incidence of poverty as many years
of positive economic growth would. The report says a large part of
the reason why recent poverty reduction efforts in Latin America and
the Caribbean have yielded disappointing results is that the regions
high levels of inequality have proved remarkably intractable. In the
rare instances when countries have succeeded in reducing inequality,
the pay-off in terms of poverty reduction has been large.
The study indicates that if the international poverty measure is used
(living on less than a dollar per day), all the countries studied,
except Bolivia and El Salvador, could reach the Millennium target
by combining average annual per capita gross domestic product (GDP)
growth rates of 3% or less with accumulative declines in inequality
of less than 4%.
The report argues that economic growth that does not affect income
distribution does not significantly improve living standards of those
in extreme poverty. However, it concludes, it is hard to prescribe
a specific economic remedy to reducing inequality.
Contact: Hubert Escaith, ECLAC, Casilla de Correo 179-D, Santiago
de Chile, telephone +56-2/210 2539/2408, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Forcasts Modest Recovery
economy of Latin America and the Caribbean will grow 1.5% in 2003,
recovering modestly from a 0.6% drop in 2002, while per capita gross
domestic product (GDP) will remain flat this year, at 2% less than
in 1997, completing the regions sixth lost year, according to
the preliminary version of its annual Economic Survey of Latin America
and the Caribbean, 2002-2003, published by the Economic Commission
for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The report reveals that the year 2003 will be better than last year
in terms of growth, employment, financial conditions and external
accounts, although 2002 is a poor basis for comparison. For 2003,
ECLAC forecasts a flattening of growth due to the lack of both a powerful
drive from the world economy (the United States is not growing as
forecast, the European countries have turned in a surprisingly poor
performance, and Japan remains stagnant) and a strong domestic reactivation.
Argentina will head the growth ranking (5.5%) although its per capita
GDP will be 17% lower than in 1997 and Venezuela will post the lowest
growth (-13%), despite a significant recovery that began in the second
quarter. Chiles growth will rise to 3.5%, led by its export
sectors. According to ECLAC, both Chile and Brazil are building up
medium-term growth capacity, and Brazil will grow for the third year
running by 1.5%.
The Latin American economies posting the strongest export performance
are those with the most competitive exchange rates or those concentrating
investments in non-renewable natural resources, the report notes.
Import values will rise 0.8% in 2003, recovering slightly from their
6.7% plunge in 2002. This will improve the regions balance of
trade, with a surplus (US$37 billion) for the second year running
and should practically balance the current account, whose deficit
should decline by US$3.7 billion, just 0.2% of GDP, for the first
time since 1990.
The report finds three significant trends in economic policy. First,
fiscal reforms became increasingly structural. Second, monetary policy
has gained greater freedom to manoeuvre as more countries are implementing
more expansionary policies. Third, foreign exchange policy has faced
a calmer year, and several countries are enjoying more competitive
exchange rates than in 2001.
ECLAC forecasts inflation in Latin America will average 8.6% for the
period from December 2002 to December 2003, representing a drop from
last years 12.1%. In 2003, the labour outlook is expected to
improve modestly. During the first half of the year, some countries
managed to boost the employment rate and reduce unemployment. In contrast,
in Brazil and Mexico, employment has performed poorly. Overall, the
number of unemployed will reach 13.6 million people.
Contact: Alfredo Calcagno, Economic Affairs Officer, Economic Development
Division, ECLAC, Casilla 179-D, Santiago, Chile, telephone +56-2/210
2661, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.eclac.cl).
Panorama of Latin America
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in
its study Social Panorama of Latin America 2002-2003 finds the number
of Latin Americans living in poverty in 2002 reached 220 million people
(43.4%), of which 95 million (18.8%) were indigents. The study also
found that progress toward overcoming poverty ground to a halt in
the past five years, with poverty and indigence rates remaining practically
constant since 1997. The only exception was 2000, when better economic
performance brought with it a reduction in the volume of poverty by
more than four million people.
The report also found that almost 55 million people of Latin America
and the Caribbean were suffering from some degree of malnutrition
toward the end of the past decade. ECLAC estimates that 11% of the
population is undernourished, and almost 9% of children under five
years suffer from acute malnutrition (low weight-for-age) and 19.4%
from chronic malnutrition (low height-for-age).
In terms of gender and poverty, the study found that in Latin America
more women than men live in poverty. Female household heads have less
monetary income than men for poor and high-income households. Single
parent households, mostly headed by women, also suffer from additional
disadvantages associated with the lack of unremunerated domestic labour.
Latin American women have higher educational levels than men, and
women in the workforce average more years of education. They nonetheless
suffer from more severe unemployment, wage discrimination and restricted
working hours than men.
ECLAC rated progress in womens political participation and management
positions as still too slow, except in countries where
affirmative action policies have been implemented.
Contact: Arturo León, Social Development Division, ECLAC, Casilla
de Correo 179-D, Santiago de Chile, telephone +56-2/210 2594, e-mail
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.eclac.cl).
Productivity Around the World
labour productivity increased in 2002, passing Europe and Japan in
annual output per worker for the first substantial period since World
War II, according to an International Labour Organization (ILO) study
entitled Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM).
According to the study, the United States remains more productive
than other nations partly because US workers worked longer hours,
putting in more hours than workers in major European economies, while
Japanese hours worked dropped to about the same level as the US. The
study also found that productivity per person employed in the world
as a whole accelerated, largely in the industrialized countries and
some countries in Asia. European and other industrialized countries
have improved their employment-to-population ratios, and although
the US employment-to-population ratio dropped in recent years, it
was consistently higher than the EU rate.
The 3rd edition of the biennial KILM examines 20 key indicators of
the labour market, including employment, unemployment, underemployment,
hours worked, labour productivity, types of economic activity and
how youth and women are faring in the labour markets, and examines
for the first time agricultural productivity, noting that this sector
remains the primary employer in many developing economies. The new
analysis suggests that a rise in productivity and employment may be
the only way to reduce poverty.
The overall global trends show that growth is not enough,
said ILO Director-General Juan Somavía. We must make productivity
growth and job creation key objectives and pursue policies that combine
these objectives with decent work.
Worldwide, a number of countries reported much higher hours worked
than in the US, with the report noting that in South Korea people
worked an average of 2,447 hours in 2001, the longest hours worked
of all economies for which data were available26% more than
people in the US and 46% more than in the Netherlands, which had the
lowest hours worked of all economies for which data were available.
In all developing Asian economies where data were available,
people historically worked more than in industrialized economies.
This is a typical sign for developing economies as they often compensate
for the lack of technology and capital with people working longer
hours, the report said.
The report also says that the wide disparities in employment in agriculture
illustrates the importance of world trade negotiations to poverty
reduction in developing countries. Among the 20 richest economies
in the world, agricultural employment is quite low, ranging between
1.4% in the UK and 7% in Ireland. In transition economies, however,
the range was between 4.8% (Czech Republic) and 52.7% (Georgia), while
in many Asian and African countries it is higher than 70%, and as
high as 43.6% in Latin America (Nicaragua) and 50.6% (Haiti). In the
Middle East and Northern Africa, the report finds it is rather low
in the oil producing economies, but as high as 75% in the non-oil
Contact: Department of Communication, ILO, 4 route des Morillons,
CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/799 7940, fax +41-22/799
8577, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.ilo.org).
Fact Finding Mission in Iraq
August a four-member team from the United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime (UNODC) undertook a two-week fact finding mission in Iraq
to assess the extent of organized crime and drug trafficking, and
to identify possible areas of intervention. The mission, dispatched
by UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, took place in response
to a request by the late Special Representative of the Secretary General
for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
After initial interviews in Baghdad, the mission team travelled extensively
in the country, and reached the following conclusions:
The Iraqi police infrastructure suffered greatly from
damage and looting in the aftermath of the war. Although significant
progress has been made by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)
in rebuilding and reopening police stations, as well as in providing
basic training and a limited amount of equipment, much more remains
to be done, particularly in developing specialized capabilities to
tackle organized crime and drug trafficking.
n Theft of oil and copper and trafficking in these products is currently
a major problem. The evolving nature of organized crime in Iraq is
based on sophisticated smuggling networks, many established under
the previous regime to circumvent UN sanctions. In recent months,
an upsurge in violent crime, including kidnapping and murder, has
Although drug trafficking is not yet viewed as a serious
problem, given Iraqs porous borders, geographical locationsituated
near one of the major drug routes for the smuggling of opiates from
Afghanistanand an established tradition of smuggling, a strong
possibility of an increase in drug trafficking exists.
The criminal justice system requires substantial reforms in
order to respond effectively to the challenges of organized crime
and drug trafficking.
The UNODC mission report highlights a number of recommendations to
complement the efforts of the CPA, Governing Council and of international
aid agencies working in Iraq. The recommendations relate to legal
assistance, institution and capacity building, prevention of drug
abuse and the promotion of Iraqs reintegration into regional
and international cooperation agreements.
Contact: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna International
Centre, PO Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria, telephone +43-1/26060
0, fax +43 -1 /26060 5866, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crime_cicp_convention.html).
20TH Project in Afghanistan
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has added a project
worth US$38 million in the fight against illicit drugs in Afghanistan,
bringing the total number of its projects in Afghanistan to 20. Antonio
Maria Costa, UNODC Executive Director, and Ali Ahmad Jalali, the Afghan
Minister of Interior, signed an agreement in Kabul in August to help
establish a new drug interdiction department within the Ministry.
This is only the latest step in continuous efforts to assist
Afghanistan in creating conditions for effective drug control. Major
progress has been made recently with the creation of a new Counter-Narcotics
Directorate and the adoption of a National Drug Control Strategy.
Now we need to increase international assistance to help the country
strengthen its capacity to enforce the law and help Afghan farmers
to develop a sustainable alternative livelihood, Mr. Costa said
at the signing of the agreement.
During his week-long visit to Kabul and to some of the opium-producing
provinces, Mr. Costa met top Afghan officials in order to assess ways
the UNODC can best contribute to their effort to counter narcotics.
In Kabul, Hamid Karzai, President of the Afghanistan Transitional
Authority, reiterated his governments commitment to enforcing
the drug control measures, including the eradication of opium poppy
fields and the destruction of illicit drugs-processing laboratories.
President Karzai and Mr. Costa agreed on the need for the international
communityincluding major development institutionsto help
Afghan farmers, not only to grow commercial crops, but also develop
the infrastructure in the largely poor rural areas of the country.
The UNODC projects in Afghanistan cover four major areas of drug control,
including monitoring, prevention, demand reduction and alternative
Most recently, UNODC has assisted Afghanistans Ministry of Justice
to develop new drug control legislation. The Office is also working
with the Counter-Narcotics Directorate in opening field offices in
major opium-producing areas of the country.
Mr. Costa also met with the Special Representative of the United Nations
Secretary-General, Lakhdar Brahimi, as well as the heads of the UN
agencies involved in the countrys reconstruction efforts.
Contact: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna International
Centre, PO Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria, telephone +43-1/26060
0, fax +43 -1/26060 5866, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.unodc.org).
Survey on Synthetic Drugs
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a new
survey, entitled Ecstasy and Amphetamines Global Survey 2003, which
warns that amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) abuse is spreading in
geographical, age and income terms. In the past 12 months, 34 million
people worldwide have abused amphetamine and methamphetamine, and
8 million have abused Ecstasy, which exceeds the number of cocaine
and heroin abusers combined. Abuse is highest in East and South-East
Asia, followed by Europe, Australia and the United States.
The survey describes the increase in the number and size of manufacturing
sites worldwide. Law enforcement agencies have dismantled a record
number of kitchen labs, but there is evidence of sophisticated
clandestine operations with 100-kilogram capacities per week, an equivalent
to one million Ecstasy pills, or 4% of the estimated global weekly
demand. The number of ecstasy laboratory seizures rose more than 6-fold
over the 1991-2001 period.
Increasingly, clandestine operators are taking advantage of
the easy transfer of technology, including the use of the Internet,
in setting up labs where favourable conditions exist: access to precursor
chemicals, growing demand, corrupt officials, poor law enforcement,
lack of extradition and/or light sentencing. This has led to a greater
involvement of criminal groups with ruthless forms of marketing,
the survey says.
ATS are emerging as a public enemy number one among
illicit drugs. Neglected by societies as an almost acceptable feature
of the lets-have-fun culture in clubs and dance
settings, synthetic drugs abuse begins with experimental use among
mostly young people. Gradually, it may lead to dangerous polydrug
use and addiction, with severe health consequences, warned Antonio
Maria Costa, UNODC Executive Director.
Contact: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna International
Centre, PO Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria, telephone +43-1/26060
0, fax +43-1/26060 5866, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.unodc.org).
Habitat Day, observed on 6 October, had Water and Sanitation
in Cities as its theme as a means to increase awareness about
the urgent need to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) commitment
to halving the number of poor people without clean water and adequate
sanitation by 2015. The global observance of World Habitat Day was
hosted by the city of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
If the Millennium Development Goals, and in particular, if the
specific target concerned with water and sanitation are to be met,
there needs to be increased commitment in terms of time, money and
political will from all sectors of society, said Anna Tibaijuka,
Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme
(UN-HABITAT). This is the time for governments, local authorities,
non-governmental organizations, the private sector and journalists
to renew their commitment to helping grass roots communities to improve
their living conditions. I call on all HABITAT Agenda Partners to
make this day a success.
Cities all over the world, governments, local authorities and local
communities organized public events, ranging from a panel of eminent
persons held in UN headquarters in New York to discuss how to improve
the delivery of water and sanitation to the urban poor to one-day
workshops on how globalization is affecting the delivery of water
and sanitation to slum dwellers.
On 6 October, UN-HABITAT launched Global Report on Human Settlements:
The Slum Challenge. The report, using a newly formulated operational
definition of slums, makes the first global assessment of slums and
emphasizes their problems and prospects, and presents estimates of
the numbers of urban slum dwellers, suggesting that the slum population
could double to two billion by 2030. It also examines the factors
leading to slum formation at all levels, from local to global, as
well as their social, spatial and economic characteristics and dynamics,
and evaluates the principal policy responses to the slum challenge
of the last few decades.
Observing the day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said increased
investment was critical in order to provide the urban poor with adequate
sanitation and clean water. Below are excerpts from his message.
In a rapidly urbanizing world, where already half of the world's
population lives in cities and towns, at least one billion people
suffer from the dangers and indignities associated with the lack of
clean water and adequate sanitation. In Africa, as many as 150 million
residents, or 50% of the urban population, do not have adequate supplies
of water, while 180 million lack adequate sanitation. In urban Asia,
700 million people, again half the urban population, lack clean water,
and 800 million are without adequate sanitation. In Latin America,
the figures are 120 million and 150 million, respectively. Everywhere,
poor people tend to pay much more than the rich for water. Moreover,
many governments, international financial institutions and aid agencies
have concentrated their efforts on rural areas, assuming that the
poor in cities are comparatively privileged when it comes to the provision
of water and sanitation, whereas it is becoming increasingly clear
that the number of inadequately served urban dwellers is much higher
than officially acknowledged.
Increased investment is critical, whether small-scale projects
at the local level or national efforts to build up essential infrastructure.
Community participation, good governance and public-private partnerships
are equally important. And since as much as 50% of a developing countrys
urban water supply can be wasted through leakage or poor administration,
greater emphasis must be placed on management strategies, which can
increase efficiency, improve maintenance and, through better billing
systems, raise the income of local authorities. To be truly equitable,
water-management strategies and practices must extend to the national
and regional level, and encompass all water users, including agriculture,
which accounts for more than three quarters of all freshwater consumption.
Cities and towns have always been centres of opportunity, but
without adequate shelter and basic services, urban environments can
be among the most life-threatening on earth. In agreeing on the Millennium
Development Goals, governments pledged to halve the number of people
without clean water and decent sanitation by 2015, and to improve
the living conditions of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
On World Habitat Day, let us all pledge to do our part to ensure adequate
sanitation and clean water for all the inhabitants of the worlds
Contact: Sharad Shankardass, Press & Media Relations Unit,
UN-HABITAT, PO Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya, +254-2/623153, fax +254-2/624060,
e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.unhabitat.org).
Report on Tourism and Biodiversity
to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
and Conservation International (CI), tourism has increased by more
than 100% between 1990 and 2000 in the worlds biodiversity hotspots,
regions that are the richest in species and facing extreme threats.
Tourism and Biodiversity: Mapping Tourisms Global Footprint,
a comprehensive study focusing on the impacts of tourism on biological
diversity, notes that in some places the growth has been staggering.
Over the past decade, tourism has increased by more than 2,000% in
both Laos and Cambodia, nearly 500% in South Africa, over 300% in
the countries of Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and 128% in the
According to the report, tourism generates 11% of global gross domestic
product (GDP), employs 200 million people and transports nearly 700
million international travellers per yeara figure that is expected
to double by 2020, and is considered one of the largest, if not the
largest, industries on the planet. With nature and adventure travel
one of the fastest-growing segments within the tourism industry, the
Earths most fragile, high biodiversity areas are where most
of that expansion will likely take place. While tourism has the potential
to provide opportunities for conserving nature, tourism development,
when done improperly, can be a major threat to biodiversity conservation
efforts, warn UNEP and CI.
Tourism development is increasingly linked to the economies of the
worlds developing countries, which are often home to high biodiversity
areas. Tourism is a principal export of the 49 least developed countries
and number one for 37 of them. While economically significant, tourism
can also prove to be volatile to local communities. Tourism development
can uproot indigenous peoples, cause local goods and services to increase,
force currency fluctuations and cause social and cultural disruption.
Tourism relies on stable and healthy communities and environments,
said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director. It cannot ruin
the very wildlife and landscapes the visitors pay to see and then
move on. Fortunately, there are many examples where tourism has balanced
the needs of the industry with the needs of wildlife and people. We
need to encourage and extend these across the globe so that they do
not become islands of good practice in a sea of environmental decline.
The report, based on two years of research, includes maps that chart
tourisms growth across the planets most biodiversity rich
environments and provides guidelines for governments, private businesses,
donor organizations and local communities for supporting more sustainable
Contact: Eric Falt, Director of UNEPs Division of Communications
and Public Information, PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya, telephone +254-2/623292,
fax +254-2/624489, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.unep.org).
Protocol to Enter into Force
has become the 16th country to ratify the Protocol on Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs), and the Protocol is set to enter into force on
23 October 2003. The Protocol, originally adopted on 24 June 1998
in Aarhus (Denmark) and signed by 35 countries and the European Community,
is the sixth to take effect under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary
Air Pollution of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
It focuses on 16 substances: 11 pesticides, 2 industrial chemicals
and 3 by-products/contaminants. Its ultimate objective is to eliminate
any discharges, emissions and losses of these POPs, which are thought
to cause birth defects and may also have a detrimental effect on physical
and intellectual development, and can damage the immune system. Foetuses
and infants are particularly at risk.
The Protocol bans the production and use of some products outright
(aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl,
mirex and toxaphene). Others are scheduled for elimination at a later
stage (DDT, heptachlor, hexaclorobenzene, PCBs). Finally, the Protocol
severely restricts the use of DDT, HCH (including lindane) and PCBs.
The Protocol includes provisions for dealing with the waste of products
that will be banned. It also obliges Parties to reduce their emissions
of dioxins, furans, PAHs and HCB below their levels in 1990 (or an
alternative year between 1985 and 1995). For the incineration of municipal,
hazardous and medical waste, it lays down specific limit values.
The 16 Parties to the ProtocolAustria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg,
Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Moldova, Slovakia, Sweden and
Switzerlandwill hold their first meeting in December 2003 in
Geneva to discuss and initiate work on a review of some of the provisions
of the Protocol and to consider the addition of other substances to
the list currently covered by the Protocol.
Contact: Keith Bull, Environment and Human Settlements Division,
UNECE, Palais des Nations, office 346, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland,
telephone +41-22/917 2354, fax +41-22/907 0621, e-mail <email@example.com>,
COP-6 Meets in Havana
6th Conference of the Parties (COP-6) to the United Nations Convention
to Combat Desertification (CCD), met in Havana (Cuba) from 25 August-6
September, bringing together over 2,000 participants including 12
Heads of State and Government, approximately 170 governments, 33 UN
agencies and intergovernmental organizations, and over 145 NGOs to
examine ways to halt desertification, which affects over one billion
people in 110 countries and threatens their food security. COP-6 included
two open dialogue sessions between governments and NGOs, and a high-level
special segment that adopted the Havana Declaration of Heads of State.
In his opening statement, Cuban President Fidel Castro blamed the
problems associated with desertification on illiteracy, deforestation,
drought, overgrazing and climate change. Desertification is most destructive
in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and claims 100 million hectares of
fertile soil annually. During COP-6, calls were made from all sides
for enhanced North-South as well as South-South cooperation. Whereas
US$42 billion in income is lost every year due to desertification,
the annual cost to prevent land degradation is estimated at US$2.4
billion, according to UN estimates.
On 29 August, governments agreed to designate the Global Environment
Facility (GEF, a multi-billion dollar global fund for the environment)
as a financial mechanism of the Convention. The Facility plans to
spend US$500 million over the next three years to promote sustainable
and innovative land management.
During COP-6, delegates from all sides emphasized the Convention as
an important tool for poverty eradication and called on all development
partners, including UN agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions,
to make use of the Convention in their strategies to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs, see NGLS Roundups 98, 105). Governments also
encouraged the expansion of economic and commercial opportunities
in the drylands by linking private-sector initiatives to the identification
of equal and fair economic opportunities for dryland goods and services.
COP-6 also adopted a number of recommendations made by the Committee
on Science and Technology, a subsidiary body to the Conference, which
encouraged institutions and NGOs to develop and test benchmarks and
indicators, invited States Parties to carry out pilot studies on early
warning systems, and proposed the collection of case studies from
local and indigenous communities on traditional knowledge, among other
During the plenary, NGOs called for better access to water for all,
claiming it to be a basic human right. Access to water is an
inalienable right to persons of the world, said Juan Luis Mérega,
who spoke on behalf of the NGOs present. He also stressed that mismanagement
of water is damaging the environment and called for an interactive,
intersectoral and holistic approach. As possible solutions to the
problem of water scarcity, NGOs presented case studies of water harvesting,
water extraction, community mobilization, training and awareness raising
that succeeded in providing better access to water.
Water availability and management is a critical environmental
issue that cannot be separated from combating desertification and
poverty eradication, said Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary
of the Convention. Whereas desertification is a result of poverty
and the subsequent total dependency on natural resources for subsistence
by the poor, water is a finite natural resource necessary for the
sustenance of life and ecological systems and a key resource for social
and economic development necessary for poverty eradication.
COP-7 is scheduled to be held from 17-28 October 2005 in Bonn.
Contact: Cheemin Gloria Kwon, United Nations Convention to Combat
Desertification, Haus Carstanjen, Martin-Luther-King Str. 8, 53175
Bonn, Germany, telephone +49-228/815 2847, fax +49-228/815 2899, e-mail
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.unccd.int).
Sub-Committee on Aquaculture Meets
second meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Sub-Committee
on Aquaculture, held in Trondheim (Norway) from 7-11 August, brought
together experts, resource managers and delegates from 50 countries
to evaluate the state of the global aquaculture sector and make recommendations
for its development.
Aquaculturethe farming of plants and fish in coastal and inland
watersis growing more quickly than any other animal-based food
sector. According to the Secretary of the Sub-Committee, Rohana Subasinghe,
90% of aquaculture occurs in developing countries. The sector currently
produces over 36% of the worlds food fish supplyup from
7% in 1970. Jiansan Jia, chief of FAOs Inland Waters and Aquaculture
Service, noted that aquacultures contribution to feeding the
hungry will become increasingly important in years to come. Some projections
suggest that captures by traditional wild fisheries will stagnate
within the next 30 years.
The conference focused on aquacultures potential to relieve
pressure on the worlds fish population and how it could help
alleviate hunger around the globe, while being developed in a sustainable,
responsible, and equitable manner. Participants discussed potentially
negative impacts of certain types of aquaculture and the implementation
of best practices within the sector. Specific concerns
include the loss of natural habitats, the invasion of local ecosystems
by new species, the use of antibiotics and genetically modified products
in fish feed, the need for better monitoring of product safety, and
the equitable distribution of profits from aquaculture among different
Responding to developing countries comments that they are often
unable to keep up with changing safety standards governing fish imports,
FAO said it will work to improve information sharing between importing
and exporting nations and, via the international Codex Alimentarius
Commission (see Go Between 98), to develop international standards
for the safety of fish products.
FAO says that in order to help promote national policies conducive
to responsible fish farming, it will develop detailed guidelines for
fish farm management aimed at both improving the quality of the fish
farmed there and at reducing their negative environmental impacts.
It is FAOs job to help feed the worlds hungry,
Mr. Subasinghe said. This body and the recommendations it produces
sharpen our efforts, and help us move forward towards that goal.
FAO established the Sub-Committee in 2001 and comprises delegates
from FAO member countries.
In related news, during a meeting held from 12-13 August that brought
together more than 20,000 aquaculture industry representatives for
the biannual AquaNor Exhibition, also in Trondheim, World Wildlife
Fund International (WWF) called on both industry and governments to
take immediate actions to address the growing coastal environmental
threats by fish farming. WWF warns that the release of waste nutrients,
pathogens and chemicals into the environment from the industry has
already been detrimental in parts of Scotland and Norway.
The escape of farmed fish from pens is further threatening already
endangered wild salmon stocks where the interbreeding of wild salmon
with escaped farmed salmon could alter the genetic makeup of salmon,
which allows them to migrate from freshwater to the ocean and back
to freshwater to spawn.
The spread of the aquaculture industry must be controlled to
avoid physical damage to coastal ecosystems and wild species and to
mitigate negative environmental impacts on coastal communities,
said Simon Cripps, Director of WWFs Endangered Seas Programme.
WWF says an international code of conduct for responsible aquaculture,
as well as the establishment of farm-free zones and marine-protected
areas to protect vulnerable species and habitats from fish farming
are needed. WWF is calling for better farm security, catch netting,
net monitoring and suitable farm location away from important salmon
Contact: George Kourous, Information Officer, FAO, Viale delle
Termi di Caracalla, I-00100, Rome, Italy, telephone +39-06/5705
3168 e-mail, <email@example.com>, website (www.fao.org/fi/default_all.asp).
Peter Bryant, WWF International, Endangered Seas Programme, Avenue
du Mont Blanc, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/364
9028, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.panda.org /about_wwf/what_we_do/marine/index.cf).
Warns of Forest Fires
are increasingly damaging the worlds forests, destroying millions
of hectares of valuable timber and other forest products every year,
according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO), who has urged countries to involve local communities in the
management and protection of their forests. The destruction of forests
and infrastructure and the costs of fire fighting are estimated at
several billion dollars every year. FAO says the uncontrolled expansion
of agricultural activities and tourism, as well as the increased use
of forests for recreational purposes, pose a serious risk to peoples
lives and to natural resources.
Mike Jurvelius, FAO Forest Fire Officer, said, Many forest ecosystems
are adapted to fires, they need some fires to regenerate the natural
forest. But unfortunately, most fires are damaging, where they burn
out of control. Mr. Jurvelius also pointed out that this years
fire season has been one of the worst in recent history:
n Portugal has lost about 417,000 hectares, which is a more than 300%
increase over the average losses during the last two decades.
n In France, fires have destroyed around 45,000 hectares of forests
so far this year, which equals a 30% increase compared to the 1980-2000
n In the Russian Federation, 23.7 million hectares of forests were
lost in 2003, an area almost the size of the UK. In 2002, the Federation
lost 11.7 million hectares.
n In the United States, around 2.8 million hectares of forests were
destroyed by forest fires, compared to around 1.7 million hectares
n In Canada, however, the losses decreased from 2.6 million hectares
in 2002 to around 1.5 million hectares this year despite the severity
of forest fires in western Canada.
n Australia has lost more than 60 million hectares in this fire season,
half of it started by humans.
n The worst fire hazard area in the world is in sub-Saharan Africa,
where more than 170 million hectares burn annually. FAO says around
10% of these fires are necessary for the ecosystem.
Globally, according to the latest data available, more than 350 million
hectares of forests were burned in 2000, equalling the size of India.
FAO says 95% of all fires are caused by various human activities.
The main causes of fire outbreaks in rural areas are: land clearing
by farmers in developed and developing countries, including shifting
cultivation; the burning of residues and waste; and using fires for
hunting and in honey collection. Most fires are out of control because
farmers lack the skills on how to contain them, FAO said. Arson, military
activities and private disputes over land tenure also lead to forest
Contact: Erwin Northoff, Information Officer, FAO, Viale delle
Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy, telephone +39-06/5705 3105,
fax +39-06/5705 4975, e-mail <Erwin.Northoff@fao.org>, website
Establishes Trafficking ClearingHouse
In an effort to establish a baseline of credible statistics about
the international trade in human beings, the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced its Trafficking
Statistics Project, a compilation of data about human trafficking
in Asias Mekong region and other areas.
The project aims to provide a clearinghouse of verifiable statistics
on an issue prone to distortion, according to a statement
from UNESCOs Bangkok office. When it comes to statistics,
trafficking of girls and women is one of several highly emotive issues
which seem to overwhelm critical faculties, the statement says,
adding that trafficking policies are often based on highly suspect
The database has collected more than 400 reports, articles and other
documents and catalogued them by five categories: country of origin,
country of destination, category of people, type of abuse and publication.
The project has attempted to trace the origin of statistics whenever
possible and assess their validity.
The projects focus is Asia, in particular the Mekong sub-region,
which encompasses several Southeast Asian countries and portions of
Contact: David Feingold, UNESCO/PROAP, 920 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
10110, Thailand, telephone +662-391/0577 (ext.503), fax +662-391/0866,
e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.unescobkk. org/culture/trafficking/trafficing.htm).
Rights Committee 78th Session
UN Human Rights Committee held its 78th session in Geneva from 14
July-8 August during which it focused on country reports submitted
by Slovakia, Portugal, El Salvador and Israel. The four countries
sent government delegations to answer questions raised by Committee
Experts in keeping with their obligations as States Parties to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The key issues the Committee addressed regarding Slovakia were the
prevention of suicide in the States penitentiary system, protection
of the victims of human trafficking, equal rights of all religious
communities and protection of the rights of the Gypsy minority.
The Committee addressed police brutality in Portugal, saying the Government
of Portugal should educate law enforcement personnel on torture and
mistreatment, as well as racial discrimination.
The Committee applauded efforts by the Salvadoran Government to strengthen
democracy, especially institutional changes made in recent years as
a result of the countrys 1992 peace accords. The Committee did,
however, express major concerns about human rights violations by police
and domestic violence against women.
With regard to Israel, the Committee welcomed positive measures and
legislation adopted to improve the status of women but urged Israel
to halt the construction of a security fence, saying it severely restricts
the right to freedom of movement of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The Committee will hold its 79th session from 20 October-7 November,
also in Geneva where it will consider reports from Latvia, the Philippines,
the Russian Federation, and Sri Lanka.
Contact: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 8-14
Avenue de la Paix, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone +41-22/917
9000, website (www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/hrc.htm).
Revises Guidelines on Refugee Women
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has released
its revised guidelines for fighting sexual and gender-based violence
against refugee women and children, focusing on issues such as the
trafficking of women and girls, domestic violence, female genital
mutilation and sexual harassment.
The guidelines, contained in the publication Sexual and Gender-Based
Violence Against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons-Guidelines
for Prevention and Response, have been expanded from the 1995 first
edition, which focused on sexual violence.
Warning that implementation will be the key to their success, UNHCR
is distributing the book to its staff worldwide, as well as to governments,
nongovernmental organizations and other UN bodies. Assistant High
Commissioner Kamel Morjane called on a joint international effort
to fight the issues addressed, noting that the guidelines are intended
for use by all humanitarian and development partners working with
refugees and other displaced populations.
To test their applicability in the field, UNHCR piloted the new guidelines
in 32 countries around the world. The agency sought feedback from
partner agencies, refugee leaders and refugees themselves, incorporating
their proposals into the final guidelines.
The new publication offers practical advice on how to address the
problem of sexual violence against refugee women and girls. It recommends
that refugees participate centrally in the design and implementation
of programmes to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
Such programmes include rights-awareness training among refugees and
decision-makers in the camps. The book also offers suggestions on
how to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these programmes.
Contact: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone
+41-22/917 9000, website (www.unhchr.ch/women).
Launches Women's Human Rights Website
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has devoted
a section of its website to womens human rights (www.unhchr.ch/
Available on the website are links to:
International instruments on the rights of women (treaties
and monitoring bodies);
Womens Rights on the Agenda of UN
Documents on gender equality and womens
human rights (OHCHR and other UN publications);
Issues in focus, including violence against
women, racial discrimination, trafficking in persons, reproductive
rights, traditional practices, and HIV/AIDS; and
Contact: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, telephone
+41-22/917 9000, website (www.unhchr.ch/women).
Task Force on Gender and Trade
A new UN inter-agency task force on gender and trade, which was created
in February 2003 by the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality,
held its first meeting from 17-18 July in Geneva. During the meeting,
the task force defined its main objective as that of sensitizing policy
makers at the national and international level to issues and policies
it identifies as important for achieving gender equality and development.
Other objectives include the promotion of gender perspectives in national
and international policies, global economic processes and trade agreements.
The task force challenged participants to empower women and to make
trade supportive of gender equality. Several activities will be undertaken
under the auspices of the task force, including socio-economic analysis
of the linkages between trade and gender, capacity building, and publication
of studies. Advocacy activities will also be conducted, such as training
workshops for policy makers and economic actors, including women and
According to UNCTAD officials, gender issues related to trade have
taken on increasing importance among policy makers. The role women
play in the economy has become a significant variablethey are
a source of inexpensive, low-skilled labour in export sectors such
as clothing, electronics assembly and non-traditional agricultural
exports. UNCTAD officials also mentioned current difficulties women
face: labour market liberalization and flexibilization
lead to job insecurity and reliance on part-time jobs. This situation
mainly threatens women, and tends to reinforce the gender division
The task force is headed by the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD), and also includes the UN Food and Agriculture
Association (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation
(UNIDO), the United Nations Womens Fund (UNIFEM), the UN regional
commissions, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Contact: Anh-Nga Tran-Nguyen, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva
10, Switzerland, fax +41-22/907 0043, telephone +41-22/907 5943, e-mail
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, website (www.unctad.org).
Yearbook of the United Nations 2001
The fifty-fifth volume of The Yearbook of the United Nations, covering
the year 2001, has been published by the Department of Public Information
(DPI). The 2001 edition, containing 1,530 pages, is fully indexed
and reproduces the texts of, and votes on, all major General Assembly,
Security Council and Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions.
The Yearbooks 52 chapters cover political and security questions;
human rights; economic and social questions; legal questions; institutional,
administrative and budgetary questions; and intergovernmental organizations
related to the UN.
The ongoing work of some 47,000 military and civilian personnel deployed
in 15 United Nations missions around the world is chronicled, as is
the reinforcement of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-building
efforts in response to conflict situations in several States. The
2001 edition of The Yearbook also provides full coverage of UN efforts
to address the armed conflicts in several African countries, including
Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Ethiopia,
and the Mano River Union countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone).
The Yearbook also reports on the UN Conference on Illicit Trade in
Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and its Programme
of Action; the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the adoption of the Durban
Declaration and Programme of Action; the 3rd United Nations Conference
on the Least Developed Countries and its programme of action for the
decade 2001-2010; a special session of the General Assembly that reviewed
the outcome of the 1996 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
(Habitat II); and another special session of the Assembly that discussed
HIV/AIDS in an effort to secure a global commitment to combat the
Contact: The Yearbook of the United Nations 2001, United Nations
Publications, Two United Nations Plaza, Room DC2-853, New York NY
10017, USA, telephone +1-212/963 8302, fax +1-212/963 3489, e-mail
Urges UN to Recognize Gay Rights
The United Nations Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees Organization
(UNGLOBE) hosted an unprecedented panel discussion at UN headquarters
in New York on 5 August 2003, calling for a stronger UN role in protecting
the rights of lesbians and gays, including within the world body.
Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that
everyone is entitled to all of its rights and freedoms without
distinction of any kind, a spokesperson for UNGLOBE questioned
why the UN itself does not accord equal rights to lesbian, gay and
bisexual employees. Why does the UN fail to recognize the committed,
non-marital relationships of these employees? Why does the UN deny
visas, pension, health and other benefits to the loved ones of its
gay, lesbian and bisexual employees? Why does the UN not take firm
action to end the many cases of overt discrimination against its gay,
lesbian and bisexual employees? And why is the UNs record on
these issues so far behind that of the World Bank and many other international
Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), emphasized that discrimination based on sexual
orientation not only violates basic human rights, but also hinders
development by immobilizing human capital, stifling expression and
limiting freedom of choice.
Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme
on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), called the UNGLOBE event groundbreaking,
saying that he applauded the effort to defeat all forms of discrimination
based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to promote the
issue of domestic partnership. Homophobia has played a crucial
role in contributing to the spread of the HIV infection among gay
men by undermining and discouraging HIV/AIDS prevention efforts aimed
at empowering vulnerable groups, Dr. Piot said. Homophobia
continues to have a devastating impact on individuals, communities
and societies today, he continued, stressing that persecution
of sexual minorities, including imprisonment and torture, is all too
Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on the rights of lesbians
and gays, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters that Mr. Annan
had been meeting with his senior advisers on the question of UN entitlements
and benefits, which under present rules apply only to heterosexual
married couples. Current UN practice, he added, is based on the national
laws of the staff member in question.
The UN Human Rights Commission tried to tackle lesbian and gay rights
in April when Brazil proposed a resolution expressing deep concern
at the occurrence of violations of human rights in the world against
persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation. The resolution
was derailed when five Muslim States on the commission said they would
oppose any resolution containing the words sexual orientation.
Islamic nations, with support from the Vatican and ultra-conservative
elements in the United States have consistently opposed the human
rights of lesbian and gay people.
Contact: UNGLOBE, United Nations, Room S-525, New York NY 10017,
USA, telephone +1-212/963 7432, email <email@example.com>,